If you stop by the Dartmouth North Community Food Centre on most Tuesday mornings, you’ll find our walking group getting ready to head out. Helping to get them out the door more often than not is Collette, who’s been a dedicated volunteer since we opened.
Collette came to the centre’s grand opening in August 2015 with a friend to see what it was all about.
“We were welcomed, brought to a table and were served a wonderful meal of homemade pea soup and salad. Before we left, we were given a calendar of events and activities going on at the centre, ” she says.
For Collette, the opening coincided with a difficult transition in her life.
“I was at risk of homelessness and hunger. Emotionally, I was a mess: stressed, alone, depressed, fearful for my safety, lacking self-worth and self-confidence. I had an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness.”
In many ways, Collette came for the healthy, nutritious food served with each activity and she stayed for the people and community she found.
“I met a lot of people that I looked forward to seeing and made some good friends,” recalls Collette. “I felt accepted in the community and not so alone.”
This led her to take the centre’s community action training and become a peer advocate. Now, she’s one of the centre’s most dedicated volunteers, actively fighting for social justice initiatives and helping community members access basic rights and services.
This sense of community also saw Collette join the centre’s first Blue Nose team, the Good Food Crusaders, last year. “It sounded like a lot of fun! I wanted to motivate and give moral support to those who were giving their time and effort to fundraise for the centre.”
She was one of two walking group members on that first team. She had such a great time that she committed to recruiting more walkers. Collette’s happy to report that a dozen members are walking this year!
Looking back on her time at the food centre, Collette is surprised with how far she’s come. “My mental, emotional, and physical states have greatly improved. I’m not as stressed, depressed, or fearful. My self-worth and confidence have grown with service. I have a purpose and a feeling of hopefulness.”
“The food centre isn’t only about food. It’s so much more. It changes lives and communities.”
On May 19, her and several members of our walking group will be participating in the Blue Nose Marathon Charity Challenge with our Good Food Crusaders team.
Want to support their walk? Visit www.goodfoodcrusaders.ca!