Most people when relating their experiences at volunteering see it as a positive time in their life. Volunteering has always been a part of my “work” time and I must say it has been very positive and rewarding. When I began volunteering at Oak Table on Thursdays I did not know a single person working on that day, although I did know volunteers that worked on other days. I was welcomed, introduced and given something to do. The guests came in and in no time it was clean up time. This marked the beginning of almost ten years of being part of Oak Table. I always looked forward to Thursdays— mostly because of the many good friendships that developed over the years and a deep appreciation for the impact Oak Table is making in the community.
[Greeting Jaxon, the dog, was part of something that brightened up my day!]
Oak Table is much more than serving delicious meals four days a week. On Wednesday afternoons capable volunteers provide material and guidance for those who wish to learn and practice their skills at art work. The results are amazing and it gives the volunteers insight to the talents our guests have which we often are unaware of. I was equally pleasantly surprised at the many guests who so freely participated on the days when it was “Karaoke“ day. Again, it is such a positive way to become more acquainted with the people that come.
We were fortunate to have young people who dedicated eighteen months after high school for volunteer work before continuing their post grad education. They came in groups of four and usually stayed for four to six weeks. Most of them were familiar with sign language. Oak Table had at least three guests who could only communicate in sign language. These three guests always scanned the room when they entered and one could witness their face break into a big smile when they saw the girls. Now there was someone they could communicate with AND someone to play cards with them. Many times I have observed the staff take time to offer counselling to those who come. The guests know Oak Table is a safe environment and they trust the staff. To me this is such an important part of the purpose of Oak Table.
Oak Table also offers free haircuts, foot care and distributes warm mitts when the cold season begins. These services are very much appreciated by the community.
All the programs and work being done would not happen without the capable and giving staff. The organization depends on all of us supporting this work by donating financially, volunteering and/or donating food or other items that are useful. The financial support is of utmost importance. Preparing meals for so many people four days a week cannot take place without financial support.
Many thanks to so many people that made my time at Oak Table so very enjoyable. I will always try and stay in touch with you. Mary R.