During COVID-19, we are witness to an unspoken truth – trying times inspire compassion, generosity, and action. Divisions and boundaries disappear, and we see a coming together of strangers with a willingness to help each other.
Over the past several weeks on Thursdays, a fleet of 50 volunteer drivers line-up to pickup groceries from our newly adapted food bank. Once their cars are loaded up, they fan out across the Lower Mainland, delivering bags of nutritious and healthy foods to over 600 clients.
When we made the decision to pivot the food bank to a full-service delivery model instead of shutting it down, we had to figure out how it was logistically going to work. What we needed was people. Volunteers who would be willing to take up this challenge with us to keep hundreds of people fed during these extraordinary times.
Thanks to the remarkable response of our community, the JFS volunteer corps grew to 250 strong in less than a week. As much as food security was our primary focus in the first month of our Emergency Care program many people helped with other priorities: our friends at AXIS Vancouver secured volunteers for a last minute pick-up and drop off of supplies; counsellors from Camp Miriam packaged meals for our weekly delivery program; professionals contacted us lending their IT and security expertise; even a long-time volunteer emailed asking to help clients with filing their taxes, at no charge; and dozens have been “visiting” with people over the phone and making “thank you calls” to our supporters.
No matter the kind of work being done, our volunteers have been part of a lifeline for 2300 people. They have shown a generous spirit felt by our staff and our client community.
One individual, who was recently housebound due to a mobility issue contacted us shortly after receiving her weekly delivery. She emphatically remarked, “If it wasn’t for you and your food program I wasn’t sure how I’d feed myself. I am overcome with gratitude.”
National Volunteer Week ended April 25, and when reflecting upon the last few weeks we recognize how fortunate we are to be able to see the impact of volunteerism in our community. These dedicated and courageous people reminded us all that we are part of a community inherently guided by the Jewish value of tikkun olam – repairing the world. What is more, we are only able to continue addressing social isolation, food insecurity, and mental health because we have the help of these silent heroes.
“Words cannot begin to express how truly grateful I am for all that you do. Each and every volunteer inspires me – with your time, love, passion and commitment. On behalf of myself, JFS, and those we serve – THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU” – Kristina Moser, JFS Volunteer and Special Events Coordinator
Want to help? Volunteer delivery drivers living in or available to travel to Tri-Cities, North Shore, Delta and Surrey areas are needed asap.