Oct 25th, 2022
Tenant Spotlight: Meet Cathy
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“Volunteering is the price you pay to live on this earth” that’s a mantra for Clementine Towers resident Cathy.
That sense of duty to her community spurned her to create a food pantry serving up to 60 people a day.
Cathy has lived in OCH communities for the last six years. She originally moved to 2100 Russell Rd. following a car accident that left her unable to work.
When she moved to Clementine Towers, she began volunteering in the community garden, then took a position as vice-president of the Tenant Association. After completing the Community Development Framework’s Creating the Change We Want workshop, through the mentorship of Euphrasiee Emedi, Community Developer with Southeast Ottawa Community Health Centre, she started the food pantry.
She said the pandemic highlighted the food security issues in the building, recalling a story of a woman who was feeling faint in the lobby.
“She was just hungry, so I went up and got her some food,” Cathy said, adding the pantry was originally a closet that she stocked with items from her own kitchen.
She said many residents have mobility issues, making it difficult to get to the Ottawa Food Bank.
Cathy used the funds from a grant to help organize a dance, a quiz night and a paint night – then used the balance to buy staples for the food pantry, such as noodles and lettuce.
Thanks to help from the former Community Developer, Catherine, she was able to set up racks in the pantry. She started off receiving food from her daughter and her own network of friends. Next, she enlisted the help of the local councillor, who put a call out for food in his monthly newsletter. In June, she received a donation of $91 from the Great Glebe Garage Sale. In August, the pantry received an Awesome Ottawa Award, which included a $1,000 grant that helped to buy a freezer. The pantry also receives support in the form of food donations from the Redeemed Christian Church of God on Auriga Drive and Food Sharing Ottawa.
The pantry has come a long way from a closet filled with supplies from Cathy’s kitchen. She has handed out 2,400 bags of food in the last year and works with a dozen volunteers in the community. Cathy remains humble about her role. The pantry operates with the help of six regular volunteers, but Cathy said she has a list of 13 people in the building she can call on to help.
“If I am doing something I put my whole heart into it,” she said.
If you’d like to donate to the Clementine Towers Food Pantry, email Cathy at email@example.com