Every month, the pre-primary students from Harbour View Elementary visit the Dartmouth North Community Food Centre. Together, these three and four-year-olds listen to stories, sing songs and make a simple recipe together to enjoy as a group. This was Sabrina’s first introduction to the Community Food Centre. She attended with her son’s class as a parent volunteer and when she heard about the Monday night Family Suppers, she was interested. Soon Sabrina was signing up for the Community Action training.
“I was looking for a change in my life… and I decided I needed to be helpful,” she says.
The 11-week course was a game changer.
“It focused on community advocacy… I learned what an advocate was and their role and when the [Peer Advocate] position became available I applied with curiosity."
Peer advocates like Sabrina work volunteer shifts at the Community Food Centre every week. During drop-ins they meet with participants to help them navigate issues such as housing or employment assistance and connect them with other services and resources.
“Although most of the time I feel like the most I can do in a situation is listen, there is a rewarding feeling when you’ve actually helped someone through a situation,” says Sabrina.
Sabrina says she’s discovered an interest in issues she was not aware of before and is eager to advocate for change.
“A place like this is so unique in the ways it can be utilized,” she says. “To each person that uses it, it serves a different purpose. Some people use it as a safe place or place to socialize. Some people use it for food. I’m using it as a place of learning, a place to build my confidence in expressing myself and a place that I can share with my family.”