Heather Manor volunteer group continues to grow
When Yvonne Dorsey moved to Heather Manor 12 years ago, she noticed many neighbours did not speak to each other – so she started small and offered a breakfast program in the lounge.
For the first year, there were only about 10 residents. Fast forward to today, the group of volunteers can serve as many as 25-40 residents.
The food for the breakfast program comes from Farm Boy and Yvonne is constantly on the lookout for donations to make the lives of other residents a little bit easier – including pet food, which she said can be tough to buy on a budget.
The tenant volunteers also lead the Fruit and Veggie Program. They collect donations of produce from local grocery stores, and sort and hand it out to residents once a week. It is quite an operation and there is a dedicated team behind making it all happen. “There’s a team of eight to 10 people, but we can call on as many as 15 to help,” Yvonne said.
Having access to healthy food can be a real game changer. “Many people don’t have much and no variety in the types of food they’re eating,” Yvonne said, adding she once talked to a woman who was living off potato chips because she could not afford much else.
When asked about her favourite program run by the Tenant Circle, Yvonne said she cannot pick just one. The group does regular dinners, hosts a Canada Day barbecue and other holiday celebrations.
“Some people need smiles, some need food,” she said. “People come from all walks of life. Some residents wear suits to the dinners we host.”
For other residents hoping to start projects in their community, Yvonne has some advice. “It’s not going to happen overnight. You have to work with what people are able to do and build on that. Everyone has a valuable contribution.”