If you’ve ever visited the Dartmouth North Community Food Centre, then you’ve met Charlie. He’s more than just a familiar face, Charlie’s warm and welcoming smile is a fixture at so many food centre events and programs.
“Charlie has been a constant around here since we opened our doors in the summer of 2015,” says Deborah Dickey, manager of the Dartmouth North Community Food Centre.
Charlie, like many of his neighbours, was initially drawn to the food centre’s drop-ins and Community Meals, but quickly wanted to get more involved by helping out.
“We don’t just ‘fill’ volunteer spaces at the food centre – we work hard to match volunteers with the right position for them. We treat volunteering with the same care and attention as job vacancies,” says Dickey. “We look at each individual’s skills and try to find a way can make their own mark.”
Charlie took immediate pride in contributing to the food centre’s programs and before long, he was regularly riding his bike over to do whatever was needed. “I ended up doing everything here – cleaning, food prep, dish room, clearing tables, laundry. I help carrying in supplies,” he says.
Charlie’s consistency and determination caught Dickey’s attention, so when she was considering hiring a cleaning service for the food centre she realized Charlie might be a perfect fit.
“I am the staff cleaner for the Centre now. I think it’s great! I used to be down but now I’m up! It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it,” he says with his usual good nature.
There’s no doubt that Charlie is thrilled to have a job, but for him, the best part is still the sense of community. “The best part is getting to know all the people who come here, especially the staff; I like making new friends.”