Taking a Unique Approach to Community Building

December 6, 2013

We welcome Deborah Hamp, Director of Operations and Engagement at the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre, to the blog as our first guest blogger! SRC employees are volunteering at Saskatchewan food banks as part of a new employee volunteer program.  Deborah has seen firsthand the impact SRC’s employees have made on the community and the impact volunteering has made on SRC’s employees.

When we invited SRC to attend Hunger Awareness Week, we had the opportunity to share information about hunger and poverty in our community. During this week, we invite small and large businesses, community-based agencies and others to take a tour, let them know what is happening in our community and talk about ways they can get involved.

We were delighted when SRC contacted us a few months later to express interest in a company-wide volunteer experience for their staff. They wanted us to create an opportunity for about 300 SRC employees to volunteer for a few hours each over the course of several months. Although we were excited by the idea of so many employees coming to lend a hand, we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! 300 people!? How could we make this happen? But at the same time, how could we not?

We recognized that this was a wonderful opportunity to work together to build our community and raise awareness with innovative and committed people who really want to make a difference. We had a few initial meetings with SRC and we worked together to formulate a plan of action. A calendar was made that allowed for two large groups a week, and in early October we welcomed our first group.

From the very beginning, SRC was great to have on board. They displayed a commitment that was truly remarkable on every level. Their enthusiasm, willingness to tackle any job and their diverse talent pool is enriching our organization in many ways.

SRC employee and a food bank volunteer filling plastic containers with food

When we visit with each group at the end of their volunteer experience, we are always interested to hear people’s thoughts and opinions and answer any questions. This time spent together has allowed us to get to know one another and see our organization through other people’s eyes. This is an invaluable learning experience for us.

At the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre, we are very fortunate to be well-supported by our community. Whether it is through donations or volunteers, or people who come to us with great ideas or to share a cup of coffee with us as we talk about our hopes for the future, it is our community that allows us to do the work we do every day.

SRC’s involvement is very meaningful to our organization. Not only have they committed their time and talent to our organization, they are also becoming our friends. As one community member pointed out to us one day, “When you have friends that care about you, life just gets a little easier.”

About the Author: Deborah Hamp is the Director of Operations and Engagement at the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre. Her background includes program management, social enterprise endeavors and systemic advocacy. She is convinced the answers to eliminating hunger and poverty can be found in our own communities.