Community Meal Program
Doing meaningful work to be part of the solution
It’s 9:00 am on a cold Wednesday and “Sheila” walks in with her usual contagious smile, always ready to help and eager to take on any task required in the busy kitchen at the CRC Regent Park Community Food Centre.
Sheila is one of our very committed, very reliable local volunteers here. Her presence radiates a pleasant energy in our frantic kitchen. Breakfast is almost ready to go out for service in our Drop-In – everybody assumes their positions and together we start plating the meal; today roasted vegetable frittata with feta cheese, baked beans, home fries, granola with mixed berries, yogurt and a clementine. We serve 141 people.
Sheila is retired, after a life of hard work collecting health care data for statistics at various hospitals in the city. Only a couple of years ago she came to the Regent Park community and as she had done many times in her life, she started looking for a place where she could help out, because “I always volunteered to give something back and that experience taught me a lot about community work”.
She was looking for a place where she could do something of value to help out in her new-found community, somewhere that shared her values of community solidarity. Luckily for us, Sheila chose to give her time and hard work in our kitchen. She explains, “you hear the comments around here and you can tell CRC is helping a lot of people”.
Her time as a kitchen volunteer not only allowed her to meet some people in her neighborhood, but also served as a learning experience. She tells me she’s learned a lot about cooking in big batches and also about healthier options since she has been coming to CRC. She feels “very proud that we can serve healthy food here and that I can be a part in that”. As well as understanding and agreeing with the importance of the holistic approach to antipoverty, social justice, and community building here at CRC, Sheila continues, “this is a very expensive city to live in and services like these are needed”.
When asked, “what do you think the moral of this story should be?”, she quickly responds, “that we all need to be more active in our communities, doing meaningful work to be part of the solution, to help, to make people’s lives a bit better”.
Thank you Sheila for your valuable contribution.
By Norberto Cáceres, Community Chef