Woman Finds Meaning Volunteering While Homeless

by Alberta

Originally from Namibia, Hileni moved to Edmonton from Toronto in April 2015 in search of a better life. Things didn’t go her way right away, and Hileni found herself living in a women’s shelter downtown. While living there, she would often visit The Salvation Army’s nearby Community & Family Services for a hot meal.

"One day I said to myself – why can't I do something to help other people?" says Hileni. It was then that she decided, even though still homeless herself, that she would offer her time by volunteering at the weekly drop-in program at The Salvation Army that she sometimes attended. The thought of making a difference in someone else’s life was a compelling reason for Hileni, and she hopes that maybe someone she helped will one day give back the same way.

“The Salvation Army makes you feel like family, and they appreciate you and make you feel at home,” adds Hileni. "Maybe I’ll serve someone today, and then they’ll give back by doing the same thing I am.”

Things have changed for Hileni and she has moved out of the shelter into a place of her own. She works two jobs now, and still volunteers at The Salvation Army when her schedule allows it. Hileni demonstrates how giving one's time in service to others can give purpose, even when we are in need ourselves. Sometimes time is all we have to give, but the return on that emotional investment can be higher than expected.