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Finding help close to home
Kathy deals with poverty but she’s found a purpose and supports for her family right in her neighbourhood
2 MIN READ

“I am known around the community centre as ‘grandma.’ Everyone calls me that, even other seniors, and I love it. It started with my grandkids calling me grandma and then a little boy asked me, ‘Why did your mom name you grandma?’

I moved into this neighbourhood in 1986. I didn’t know about the centre when it opened in 2006 because I mostly stick to myself. But four of my nine grandkids started to come here about seven or eight years ago and I would come to pick them up because my daughter was at work. Then I started to volunteer here.

I help out with the breakfast program and the after-school program but the food pantry is my biggest thing. I love it there. We get donations from a lot of churches and we help anybody. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live.

Food in general, you need it for mental stability and sometimes if you don’t have that access to food you can just go mentally in a downward spiral. If it wasn’t for the food pantry, some days I would probably not be eating at all.

I live paycheque to paycheque. When you can get food here, you can use that money to pay other bills.

Yesterday, a homeless man came in. He didn’t have socks. But I was able to find him a couple of pairs in the clothing pantry and gave him some food, too. That man left happy. There have been days when I’ve been hungry and cold, so I understand. For a lot of people, pride gets in the way and they can’t ask for help. But the centre is there for anyone.

My grandkids have come for breakfast and the food pantry has helped us when we’ve needed it. This place is a comfort when you are struggling. I really wish the centre had been around when I was raising my three children.

I have mental illness issues. I try to make myself get up every day to try to keep my mental health on track. I now work part-time at the centre doing cleaning. There is nowhere else I would rather be. I have found a second home.

I try to donate to United Way myself. I can’t do large sums of money, but I do what I can. When I can’t donate, I ask others. It helps in so many ways. I can’t imagine where the community would be without it.”

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“I started my relationship with the agency four years ago. I was attending a program to learn about computers and someone suggested I could have lunch at the senior’s centre in the same building as the school. I was served delicious lunches and was able to participate in activities. The centre gives seniors a sense of independence and a chance to have a social life. They make them feel important.
As a newcomer, Sebastian found himself struggling in school and trying to learn English. Now, five years later, he is volunteering at the United Way-supported agency and serving as a leader to newcomers arriving today. His family emigrated from there home country when Sebastian was seven. “It was because of the state my country was in. It wasn’t the greatest in terms of safety. We were shot at one day when going to my grandma’s house, and I think that’s what led my parents to finally make the decision to immigrate.”
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