Honouring Volunteers Whose Vital Connections Strengthen Communities

Left: Eva bags food. Right Louise prepares beverages
by SalvationArmy.ca
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Volunteers—unsung heroes—champions.

During National Volunteer Week, April 18-24, The Salvation Army celebrates the selfless dedication and commitment of its thousands of volunteers who give their time and energy to help others succeed.

“The impact of a volunteer can never be underestimated,” says Alice Johansson, The Salvation Army’s territorial manager of volunteer services. “We are truly grateful to our volunteers whose care and compassion enables The Salvation Army to extend its reach and help more communities thrive.”

Eva

“Volunteering has made me feel more comfortable in social settings,” says Eva, 19. “More importantly, it has helped me gain a better understanding of what poverty looks like and what goes on behind the scenes.”

In November 2020, Eva began volunteering at The Salvation Army’s Ches Penney Centre of Hope in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. From an in-house food bank to a health clinic, 20 housing units and chiropractic services, the centre welcomes anyone who has nowhere else to turn.

“I moved to St. John’s to attend university,” says Eva. “When I heard that The Salvation Army was building a new facility for vulnerable people, I wanted to be part of it.”

When COVID-19 restrictions aren’t in place, Eva can be found in the food bank two afternoons a week sorting food items, stacking shelves, packing hampers, or registering clients.

“It is rewarding to be able to truly help someone”

“It is rewarding to be able to truly help someone,” says Eva. “Most people who come for assistance don’t have sufficient income to access basic needs. And some who have lost employment due to the pandemic would normally be the ones helping others.”

Louise

Louise is also a volunteer at the Ches Penney Centre of Hope in their meal program. A retiree, she has volunteered with The Salvation Army in various food services programs for 12 years.

“Sometimes I go home and cry over what I’ve seen,” says Louise. “When I cook in my own kitchen, I think about the people I have met that day and the challenges they face.”

Before retirement, Louise spent 25 years working in a school cafeteria. Her transferable skills are a great asset to the centre. From peeling vegetables to pouring beverages and cleaning tables, Louise’s quiet presence ensures her vulnerable neighbours stay safe and have the food they need.

“I’m not going to stay home when there is something I can do to help someone,” says Louise.

Louise lost her husband 18 years ago due to a severe stroke. She has since lived alone and says volunteering motivates her to get out of the house.

“I’m not going to stay home when there is something I can do to help someone”

“I really love helping people. That’s what volunteering is all about,” says Louise.

When asked how she feels after a day of volunteering Louise says: “If you need me another day, I’ll do it. I don’t want to see people with nothing to eat.”

If you want to be part of The Salvation Army’s team of volunteers or are seeking more information, visit SalvationArmy.ca/volunteer

By Linda Leigh