Railside Volunteers Share Stories of Volunteering on the Front Lines of COVID-19

by rubani
Categories: Divisional News

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for many.  Community members, business owners and many others have felt a massive blow to their core structures and routines in recent months.

The Salvation Army is no different as they face their own struggles to maintain essential services that carry out their mission.

The Army’s Railside Distribution Centre not only experienced a huge increase in demand in response to the current pandemic, but also had to deal with the adverse effect of fewer volunteers and personnel that are needed to meet the needs.

Hope was not lost however as Army personnel from other Ministry Units and community members jumped at the opportunity to lend a helping hand.

“When our offices at Territorial Headquarters shut down, I began to inquire where else I might be needed” said Major David Pearo, Pastoral Services. “I knew there would be opportunities where my time could be used more wisely. So, I reached out to John Halbert at Railside and asked if there was an area where they could use my help a few times a week…and there was.”

Other volunteers echoed similar thoughts.  “I’ve been going to The Salvation Army all my life and always knew about Railside. There was a notification sent around and I couldn’t see why I wouldn’t help if there was a need,” said Sharon Craig, a member of The Salvation Army Church.

Kristie Smith, another volunteer at Railside, talked about why it was important for her to contribute to such a crucial cause.  “I am a RMT and haven’t been able to work during this time. But prior to COVID-19, I was trying to figure out what organization I wanted to give my time to. And once I found I had the time, I wanted to get out and be useful. To me, volunteering helps keeps things in check with the magnitude of what’s happening. You realize that going without food is a big deal and volunteering at Railside makes you realize how important it is.”

One of the wonderful things to come out of this pandemic is to see how people have stepped up, to assist with simple things such as helping to sort food so that it can be distributed and help to provide meals to those who are in need.

“It was beautiful to see those who have risen up with that servant heart, both within the Army and the other volunteers who have come to walk alongside of us,” noted David. “These are people who have been willing to give up time and energy to be part of this community…to Railside. And all for the simple reason provide food so that others can eat.”

The beauty of these trying times doesn’t stop there. Volunteers at Railside have especially noted that they not only feel like they contributed with their time to this cause, but they were also able to take away some very important teachings and gained a new sense of purpose.

“A piece of me is there,” mentioned Heather Secord, who attends The Salvation Army Church. “By putting myself out there, it was a healing process of sorts. I was doing something that was different and by pushing myself to do that something different, it gave me a purpose to get out of bed. It was really was quite mentally and emotionally healing for me.”

Rex Hsu, another volunteer at Railside, added how this opportunity was a “good way to learn about different people in different fields and professions. It’s built into the very environment…it doesn’t matter what job you come from, we’re all the same. We’re here for the same purpose and cause- there’s no hierarchy. And I feel because of that you learn more about people.”

“It’s been an opportunity as an immigrant to assimilate into the culture & community.”

It goes without saying that in many ways, we have been given the gift of time during COVID-19. And as Sharon Craig said, “it’s our responsibility to help those who need the help. It’s not just about us.”

If you would like to volunteer your time at Railside, kindly email: [email protected]