Teena and Simon tell us about their experience of volunteering in the midst of a pandemic.
When did you start volunteering at the Wild Goose?
Teena: I think it was in November 2020.
Simon: I started in December 2020.
Why did you want to volunteer?
Teena: It is something I have wanted to do for a long time, and I have been drawn to volunteer in an area that serves people who are homeless.
Simon: I heard through my wife’s volunteering that the Goose needed some additional drivers to collect donated food and I thought that this was something I could do to assist.
What do you do as a volunteer?
Teena: I help out in the Wild Goose kitchen- food prep, cleaning, whatever is needed, and have started to help serve breakfast as the Goose reopened.
Simon: I drive the van that collects donated food. This involves sorting, packing, and unloading of food products.
What has touched you most about the people who come to get food at the Wild Goose? Is there a particular client that has stuck in your mind? If so, why?
Teena: Seeing need up close; cold red hands; friendly faces; quick urgent need for something warm to eat or drink compared with the slowness of others wanting to chat and connect, shared community. A few people have stuck in my mind, the person who always gets two of everything to give to someone else in need, and the person who struggles up the step and seeks out a conversation that doesn’t make sense except to them and I wonder how they manage day to day.
Simon: I don’t have direct contact with clients at the Goose, but I do see how innovative those who prepare the food must be as the types of food donated tends to vary from day to day.
What has volunteering during the pandemic meant to you? Has it affected your perceptions of people who are homeless? If so, how?
Teena: It has meant getting out of the house! Having an additional purpose during this time has been rewarding. I have liked knowing that I am doing my bit to help others in this time of uncertainty. The pandemic has highlighted to me their resilience because they live a hard life, and also their deep need for life’s basics.
Simon: The day that I volunteer is the best day of the week. I have the opportunity to leave the house and provide assistance to other great volunteers who are supporting those in need. I gives me a mid-week mood boost. Volunteering through the pandemic has changed my perception of those in need. When I drop the food to the foodbank those in line eagerly watch to see what is in the day’s delivery. I am reminded that without these services their lives would likely be very much more challenging.
What would you say to anyone who is considering volunteering at the Wild Goose?
Teena: It is a rewarding experience, with a very friendly team who make you feel at home. It gives you the opportunity to live out part of what Jesus calls us to do in loving our neighbour, so go for it!
Simon: Many hands make light work. If you have some spare time and want to make a difference to those in need in our community the Goose could be a good fit. We feel safe volunteering here in the pandemic due to all of the Covid safe measures that have been put into place.