We are very happy to share this guest blog post by Noelle Kirk, where she shares about her personal experience volunteering with Redwood.
Albert Einstein was once quoted as saying “Only a life lived for others is worth living” and I couldn’t agree more. Over the last 5 years, my role and involvement with Redwood has been a varied one. I have cleaned apartments, delivered food, gathered clothing or donations (and served as a very unqualified stylist), washed dishes, babysat children, eaten delicious food and shared many a cup of coffee or tea. One thing that has been constant however, is that many of my best memories have been made, and continue to be made, over food and around the table. Whether it was stirring chocolate over a stove during an Easter chocolate making event or drinking coffee and holding babies while sitting around the living room at United House, I have so many beautiful memories of food and community.
What began as a simple offer to host our United House Christmas dinner 5 years ago, became a myriad of blessings I could not have imagined. I am happiest when my home is filled with food and people and the offer to host that year was motivated by the desire to not only get my hands dirty in the kitchen (one of my favourite things), but to also provide a safe, welcoming space for women to gather in what may be for many, a difficult time of the year. Some were spending their first Christmas away from their partner and “home”, and sometimes, even their children. What I could not have anticipated that year (and in all the beautiful years to come), was the gifts that such an experience brought to both me and my family. As we sat around the table as women, moms, sisters and friends, I was overwhelmed with joy by the laughter that echoed throughout my home. We laughed until our sides hurt and we cried tears of gratitude for the women with whom we sat, in both good times and bad. The ease with which these women (some of whom had arrived as strangers) shared their stories, their victories and their hopes, was extraordinary to me and I felt so blessed. As a community, we had created a space, where despite all of the challenges both behind and ahead of them, these women could laugh, relax and truly experience the spirit of Christmas. It, as well as others to come, would be my very favourite part of the holidays and would leave a lasting mark on my heart and that of my family. I am both saddened and overjoyed that we have now FAR outgrown both my table and dining room. As Redwood Park Communities has grown and evolved, so have I, both as a woman and as a member of this beautiful community. While many go into volunteerism asking themselves “What do I have to give?” or “What skills/talents can I offer?” very few people realize (until they’ve done it!) the incredible amount of joy, fulfillment and love that volunteerism gives back. Never in a million years, could I have imagined learning so much from what started as “me” giving back to our community. ______________________________________ Looking to get involved at Redwood? You can complete our volunteer intake form here.