We sat down with two of our volunteers, Marie Walsh and Tony Gormley to find out how and why they got involved in helping others.
When did you start volunteering?
Marie: I’ve been with the Center a couple of years. I’ve been away for the last six months, but I come back once a month and try to do the [sandwich] run on Monday night.
Tony: I’ve been volunteering for fifteen years in the center, doing errands here and there. I knew someone that was doing it and I figured I should do my part too.
Marie: Really you get at the stage in life where you want to give back and contribute to the community that was pretty good to you because, I lived here for like thirty years and this community was pretty good to me when I came here first.
For anyone thinking of volunteering, what would you say to them?
Marie: One of the reasons it was made more feasible for me is that my company started giving us community hours. So for any organization out there, if they can commit their staff to use community hours or give them time off and support the time off to do volunteering efforts, it makes it so much easier.
Tony: I say by all means [do it, you get so much] satisfaction that you’re doing something for someone else.
Marie: There’s such great clients, they start your week off. You’ve done something good and something worthwhile, it’s the best day of the week for me. We [see the same people every week] and there’s some great characters downtown who are just hard on their luck.
Do you have any significant memories from volunteering?
Tony: One night I went downtown because there was a heavy snow storm and they were short drivers. One thing that sticks out for me is that there was a person sleeping on a piece of cardboard and bags and I woke him up to tell him that there’s food there. He thanked me for coming out ‘on a night like that’ and I’ll always remember that.
Marie: One of the nights a lady who shows up every Monday came with a holiday card for us signed by all the clients. That would bring you to tears. It shows you that they truly do appreciate what we do.
Not [all of our clients] are homeless, they may just be in unfortunate circumstances. Some of them just come out for that chat. This one elderly lady comes and might sometimes have something small to eat, but if she ever gets a donation of a coffee she will ask for us to distribute it and she’ll always give us something to bring home in the car. The generosity of the people is amazing, they are willing to give back themselves when they can.
When the weather is bad, they hold a parking spot for us, whether they put down boxes or sometimes they'll stand in the street. Some of them will help us unload the car, some will carry the soup containers.
Volunteering is a lovely way to spend a couple of hours. Hail, rain or snow they are there and so are we.