By: Jillian Hendry
The following is a first hand account of the experience of Jillian Hendry, a placement student from St. Lawrence College who spent 2 days a week over the last few months with us.
As a 3rd year student in the Business Administration program at St. Lawrence College, I knew I wanted to do my final year work placement somewhere where I was not only learning valuable business skills, but also somewhere I was making a difference in the community. I have always been interested in non-profit organizations, so when the opportunity to work at the Agapè Centre presented itself I couldn’t say no.
When I first walked through the doors at the Agapè Centre I had no idea what to expect. Although I had heard about The Agapè Centre and had read about some of the things they do, it did not compare to seeing firsthand how much work goes into providing people in need with necessities such as food and clothing, that I had so much taken for granted. After only working here for one day, the building, welcoming staff, and grateful clients had changed my entire outlook on life.
Throughout my time here at Agapè Centre I worked on a variety of different projects, and although I wasn’t directly working with the community, before starting each project, Kendra (the volunteer coordinator) always made a point of tell me how the project would benefit the clients, and the community.
One project I was able to work on was “Lunch Money Day” – a fundraiser that was geared towards providing individuals and families in our community with fresh and nutritious food from both the soup kitchen and food bank. I was able to work on this fundraiser from beginning to end, mailing out letters, following up with businesses, scheduling pick up times, and I even had the opportunity to get interviewed by TV Cogeco to talk about it and how people could get involved. Being able to work on a project from start to finish opened my eyes to just how much goes into one small fundraiser. I can only imagine how much work goes into the larger fundraisers that Agapè organizes every year.
Another project I was able to work on was interviewing volunteers and staff members to write profiles on them. After interviewing a few volunteers it became clear that although everyone started volunteering for different reasons, when asked why they kept coming back the same answer kept reoccurring- “because I enjoy it.” Not only did they enjoy the people they worked with, they loved the smile on the clients face when they received their meal, clothing or groceries.
While working here I was also able to work on a project that, in my opinion, should be one of the most important aspects of a food bank- providing clients with healthy, fresh, and nutritious food. My job was to create a contact list of farmers in the area in the hopes that in the near future Agapè would be able to work with farmers and educate them on the benefits of donating produce. This project is one of many ways Agapè is trying to make sure their clients are receiving the nutrients they need.
One of my most memorable moments here was when I was working in the food bank bringing groceries out to clients. After bringing the client their food I went to walk away and they stopped me and said “I just want you to know how much this means to me and how much I rely on this food to get me through the week.” That person continued on to say that when they were back on their feet they would donate anything they could to repay us. So many of us take food for granted and don’t think twice about all the healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables we eat, yet someone who has nothing is so grateful for the little they receive. That moment will stay with me forever.
This placement has taught me so much about what it really takes to run a non-profit-organization. Not only what you see when you use their services but what goes on behind that. I am beyond grateful to all the dedicated staff and volunteers here at Agapè Centre for being so welcoming and friendly the minute I walk through the doors.
The Agapè Centre would like to thank Jillian for the passion, professionalism, and incredible work that she offered during her placement. She was warm, friendly, and wonderful with everyone she worked with and served. Jillian was a tremendous asset, and we are thankful for all of the ways she helped.