If you come to CRC’s Clothing Program on Fridays, you will be warmly greeted at the clothing reception desk by Saifuddin Ahmed.
He will assist you to make an appointment for our clothing, laundry, or shower services. If you are scheduled to access the clothing room that day, he will sign you in and ask you to wait until the clothing staff and volunteers are able to attend to you.
Saifuddin does all this with a friendly, professional manner which makes our participants feel valued and acknowledged. He began volunteering at CRC as one of our clothing receptionists in 2014.
When asked what he likes about being at CRC, he smiles. “It’s very nice here. You get to see a diversity of people. I enjoy working with vulnerable people, new immigrants, or transgender people. I feel happy when I work with them. All people need to be treated with respect and without judgment because it builds their self-esteem and because social justice means something at CRC.”
When asked if he has had any bad experiences while volunteering at CRC he smiles again. “I try very hard to make people feel welcomed when they come here.”
“I like the way he keeps everyone calm”, observes Penny Berti, CRC Clothing Program Worker. “Saifuddin is very good at diffusing tense moments. And if we can’t assist a person who comes to us, he is quick to refer them on to another organization that can.”
Originally from Bangladesh, Saifuddin came to Canada 17 years ago. Prior to that he had lived in Finland for 12 years, where he worked in a post office and studied comparative religions. In Bangladesh he taught History at a local college.
Since he arrived in Toronto, his life has been very busy. He completed a Social Service Diploma at Centennial College and an Honours degree in Sociology at York University. His wife is currently studying to be a nurse and together they are raising two teenagers. In addition to CRC, Saifuddin also volunteers at the Toronto Rehab Centre and works part-time with adults and children at the Geneva Centre for Autism (Respite Service).
And most excitingly for Saifuddin and his family, he has just been accepted into a Master’s Program at York University in Critical Disability Studies for this fall. CRC was honoured to write a letter of reference for Saifuddin during his application process. When his academic work is over, Saifuddin would like to teach at the college level.
“Canada and Toronto have been good to me,” remarks Saifuddin. “I love that this is a multi-cultural country and city, where people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds can live in harmony and peace.”
And CRC has been good for him too. “I really like helping people who come here. CRC is a great example of place that helps those in need with dignity and respect, and I love being a part of that.”