Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Serving at Siloam 'brings joy' to retiree's heart

Mission couldn't function without volunteers

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Claire Friesen is a true testament to the fact each and every one of us can have a positive impact on the lives of others.

Clocking in at more than 1,000 hours of volunteer service over the past two years at Siloam Mission, Friesen said she loves to be part of an organization where change is taking place all the time.

"Siloam Mission is all about making a better life for people," said Friesen. "When patrons come in they are treated with respect. They are told they are valued."

Since 1987, Siloam Mission has provided meals, clothing and hope to people living in poverty and homelessness in Winnipeg. Over the past year, 7,120 people, including 450 groups, have volunteered 77,588 hours of their time at Siloam Mission.

'Siloam Mission is all about making a better life for people. When patrons come in they are treated with respect. They are told they are valued'

Volunteers have helped serve 395,765 meals this year, helped make 9,976 bagged lunches for shelter guests who work, and have prepared 4,469 emergency food hampers.

Siloam Mission has seen 38,996 emergency-shelter stays and 1,162 individuals who have used emergency shelter in the past year. The mission has also seen patrons enrol in schooling and training, then move on to employment and housing.

"Volunteering there, you hear so many amazing, inspiring stories," said Friesen. "It always gets me choked up. You see lives slowly changing. You see somebody getting that confidence. One guy had been sober for a year, trained for a job, is working now and has housing and he is holding his head high. It makes it all worth getting up in the morning for me."

Friesen began volunteering at Siloam Mission the minute she retired. She works two to three days a week behind the scenes in the donor-care office, sorting through incoming donations, maintaining donor databases and making thank-you calls to people who make a donation.

"Winnipeg honestly has the nicest, most wonderful bunch of people," said Friesen. "People are always surprised when we call to thank them for their donation, to thank them for making a difference in the lives of the men and women who use Siloam's services."

Friesen said it warms her heart seeing the increasing amount of young people making donations to Siloam, saying they have received donations from children's birthday parties -- where instead of gifts, guests have been asked to make a donation.

"I'm so impressed that so many kids and schools have such big hearts and want to help out the homeless," says Friesen.

Her supervisor agreed emphatically.

"It is not a cliché that 'we couldn't do it without volunteers'. It really is the truth. Volunteers like Claire who work behind the scenes are as equally important as those who work directly with our community. Each volunteer brings their gifts to the community and that's what builds Siloam Mission," said Lindsay Smith, director of volunteer services at Siloam Mission. "Claire is a longtime, dedicated volunteer that deeply cares for people and expresses it in her administrative work."

Said Friesen: "Volunteering for Siloam, I always feel good at the end of the day. It really does bring joy to my heart."

Siloam Mission encourages people during this season to collect much-needed items such as toques, gloves, boots, etc. (a full list can be found at http://www.siloam.ca/get-involved/fill-a-need/) from family and friends at holiday gatherings or starting up a collection bin at work. Those interested in volunteering for Siloam Mission can find more information at www.siloam.ca.

 

If you know a special volunteer, please contact Carolyn Shimmin-Bazak at: carolynshimmin@gmail.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 9, 2013 B2

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