Yesterday 11 WHH volunteers gathered at The Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities (SCHC) to help out in the clothing and food banks. We toured the “Market” where folks can grocery shop for food once a week, and the clothing bank – set up like retail store – where people pick out new clothes once per month. These programs serve about 300 local families per week.
We learned a lot.
We learned that mens clothing is a major need at the clothing bank and that they are constantly low on baby food and diapers.
We also saw firsthand the reality of funding and staffing at social service organizations in our city. At any given time, only 1.5 staff members are on site to oversee the programs we visited. This means that if the volunteers don’t show up to their shifts, the programs struggle to run.
This also means that things pile up – staff are busy working with partners, addressing crises, supporting clients and filling the gaps in volunteer time. With such a small staff, simple things like managing the influx of donations, deep cleaning, and maintenance get neglected in favour of meeting the needs of the families they serve. Add all of this to an already marginalized and underfunded building, and the state of things is a bit overwhelming.
Despite the challenges, staff at SCHC work incredibly hard. Amazingly, they are always smiling and quick to crack a joke or lend a hand. But it’s clear that they need more help.
The work we did yesterday was sometimes challenging. We sorted donations, cleaned and mopped storage spaces, made self care kits and installed shelving units. And there is much more to be done. Everyone deserves dignity and support during their time of need and well maintained program spaces are a key part of that.
A sincere thank you to everyone who came out to lend a hand yesterday. Like the SCHC staff, our volunteers are always positive, laughing, ready to serve and help where it’s needed. Because of the work WHH voluntters put in, the food and clothing banks at SCHC can better serve over 1,200 families every month.
As we were leaving for the day, the SCHC staff said “You have no idea the difference you have made for us. Don’t underestimate what you have done.” The community appreciates you and so do we.
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