Volunteering Changes Lives, Including Your Own

by Linda Leigh
Categories: Articles, Feature, Mobile, Newswire
Share:

Every week Julie Whalen uses her spare time and skills to help others.  And every week she ends up gaining more than she could possibly give.

On any given Thursday this full-time mom and supply pre-school teacher uses her passion for cooking and her desire to show love in her community to teach low-income families at The Salvation Army in Markham, Ont., how to create easy and inexpensive meals, and learn more about nutrition.

But gatherings go much deeper than sharing a meal together.

Participants speak passionately about how helpful it is to be given a practical gift.

“I’ve learned to make pancakes for my son and daughter,” says one single dad who wants to be more active in his children’s lives.

“Learning how to make macaroni and cheese makes me smile,” says a new immigrant adjusting to Canadian culture. “Now I don’t feel like a total stranger.”

“No one at the class has an easy life,” says Julie. And for Julie, diving into helping others has affected her in life-changing ways.

“When a single mom weeps as she recalls her frightful experience as an orphan, or an unemployed middle-aged man breathes with a sense of relief as he packs up a container of leftovers, you are reminded to be thankful for all that you now realize you have.”

Furthermore, one of the great things about the program is that participants preserve their heritage through recipe choices like Mexican soup or Caribbean jerk chicken. By preparing and indulging in a multiple variety of ethnic foods Julie is learning about culture and has a new understanding for, and connection with, people who have migrated from different lands.

“Whatever your passion is,” says Julie, “however you get involved, volunteering will impact your life in ways you would never imagine.”

And for the group of people Julie interacts with every week?

Resources and encouragement are now their recipes for success.