Volunteer work combines political activism and hands-on ministry
By Rev Robert Chaffey
I am doing volunteer work in my little community of Bancroft, ON. I have been volunteering at a soup kitchen, the North Hastings Community Cupboard, and I’ve learned we have between 40-50 homeless people in this little town. One person is too many, but for our little town, it’s a major problem, as we have very little in the way of resources or political will to face this challenge head on.
Volunteers have raised this issue with the municipality and the North Hastings Community Cupboard had been granted $25,000 to put toward a warming centre to help these people during the cold months. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find space for the centre and have realized that money would just not go very far. So we are back to focussing on what we can do. That includes providing hot meals, food for their own cupboards, as well as buying hats and mittens and gloves. We have met with the mayor, MP, and the MPP’s office and we realize anything that amounts to success is going to have to come from us as volunteers.
Politically we are in a tough spot. Bancroft has a problem with affordable housing, poverty, addictions, and food insecurity. That is part of our fight here. We are a small group of community members trying to make things better where our leadership is failing. It’s disappointing that the municipality and other levels of government have not been able to step up in a bigger way.
We are having a hard time keeping up with the demand for hats, mitts, and scarves, which are being made available through the soup kitchen and food bank seven days a week. The micro-grant that CSMC has provided ($500) will purchase more warm clothing items and will go a long way in helping to keep people warm during these difficult months of winter.
Photos: Food cupboard volunteers Herb (left) and Jay stock the meat freezer, and warm weather gear for distribution.