Two Passionate Food & Friends Volunteers

April 14, 2023

                                        Lynda  em and joe  

I’d like to introduce you to Lynda and Judy, two passionate Food & Friends volunteers. Along with a team of volunteers, teachers, staff, and students at Waverley Public School in Guelph, they purchase, prepare, and provide breakfast, lunch, and snacks for students at the school. This program would not be possible without the organization, support, and dedication of Patti Schopp, Special Program Assistant at Waverley and Program Coordinator of their Food & Friends Program.

Lynda started volunteering with Food & Friends in September 2022 as she was looking for a way to be engaged in the community since recently retiring and she felt that helping children was “a good fit” for her. Lynda started volunteering for a few hours once per week, but that soon turned into two, and recently, three days a week.  She was already familiar with The Children’s Foundation as she and her family provide donations for the organization, including the Adopt-A-Family Program.

Judy also retired recently and joined the Food & Friends team at Waverley in September 2022. It was a Children’s Foundation Board Member who suggested she volunteer with Food & Friends. Judy had volunteered at The Food Bank and since “kids and food insecurity are like a calling to her,” it was a perfect match. Providing nutritious food to kids, as well as providing them with the opportunity to eat together, is key to her feeling of satisfaction as a volunteer.

Lynda shares the personal impact of being a volunteer by explaining that when she goes home after volunteering, she’s tired – but it’s a good tired. It’s the feeling of having contributed to the welfare of children that makes her feel a sense of self worth. “Knowing that children don’t have food at home breaks my heart.” She has observed in her volunteering that some children arrive to school without any food in their lunch bag and she knows that she can alleviate that emptiness. Lynda lives on her own and many of her interests and hobbies are solitary activities such as gardening, reading, and cross stitching. Volunteering provides her with socialization, engagement, fun and friendship, as well as with a sense of being valued.

Judy suggests that the combination of getting older, with the last several years of being isolated due to Covid, “makes you realize we’re a community and we need to help one another”. Judy enjoys a wide range of music genres and loves to watch hockey, but it’s also the satisfaction of seeing smiles on kids’ faces that provides balance to her life. She knows it’s extremely important to help others for her own mental health, as working, talking, and laughing as part of a team really provides a sense of belonging and self-worth.

When asked what she would say to a person who has never volunteered before, Lynda said that there’s a “misconception that you have to make a long term commitment to volunteer”. She suggests that you can try it on for size and if it doesn’t work, there are other options as the Children’s Foundation has a wide variety of volunteer opportunities throughout the year, for all types of personalities and interests.

Judy adds that as a volunteer you can develop new skills and experiences outside of your regular pursuits. Volunteering can open up new possibilities for you - it’s all about “people being people together!”

On behalf of the Children’s Foundation, we want to say thank you to all the Food & Friends volunteers, as well as those who volunteer with events, committees, Adopt-A-Family, and everything in between! We couldn’t do it without you!