Tuesday, April 30, 2013

We need your summer clothes!

We've finally reached a (fairly) consistent +10° in Waterloo Region, hallelujah!

After a long winter gratefully accepting your preowned winter coats and other cold weather gear, FoodLove is now ready to switch gears and start begging asking for your preowned summer gear.

While we have some clothes left from last year, our summer wardrobe is looking a little bare, especially in the kids area.

We are currently in need of lighter clothing for kids (and adults!) of all ages but especially ranging from kid sizes 4 (m/f) to size 10 (m/f).

You know it's time to clean out those drawers so why not give us a call or email us at foodlovekw@gmail.com to arrange for a pickup of clothes that'll make a huge difference to a local family this summer!

** All clothing from the FoodLove Clothing Closet is provided free of charge to area families and shelters in need. To find out more about FoodLove and our services, please visit our website. Thank you for your consistent generosity Waterloo Region, we are proud to make your random acts of kindness come together to make a big impact!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Show Your Volunteers Some Love

It's National Volunteer Week! To the 13.3 million  volunteers in Canada, we salute you.

From running hockey teams to fundraising for homeless shelters, to packing food at the food bank and organizing great community events, volunteers are all around us. They feed our children, keep our streets clean and safe and build stunning websites for social profits orgs.

So how do we give thanks for the people who really make our community what it is?

Volunteer recognition is an important part of the volunteer selection and retention process. Knowing your volunteer's reasons for giving their time is an important indicator to how you can say thanks.

Say Thank You - It's underrated. People like to feel appreciated and for most, a sincere thank you is enough.

Send a Card - Handwritten or at least hand signed, whenever possible.

Lunch - Who doesn't love free food? Invite your volunteers to a volunteer appreciation breakfast, a dessert night, afternoon tea or a barbecue to show your thanks. This event will also give you a great opportunity to highlight great achievements in the previous years campaign and to energize your team for the coming year.

Personalized Chocolate Bars - 2 years ago I was gifted a Hershey bar from an organization. They made personalized labels for all their volunteers and the Board of Directors wrapped all those chocolate bars while conducting a meeting. Talk about multi-tasking!

Service Medals - Recognize your volunteers yearly (monthly, weekly) but also make a big deal out of milestones. Many organizations hand out service medals (often keychains) acknowledging memorable dates and years of service.

Learning Opportunities - Year after year, I ask my own volunteers what they'd like as appreciation for a job well done. Typically, the first answer is almost always "A raise" (big jokers around here!) but next on the list is something to do. We've organized days at the museum (including spouses and family, of course), rented a movie theatre, had an expert come to us to teach container gardening and made arrangements to tour a local building that is rarely seen by outsiders.

Volunteers are a pretty easy-going, loving bunch. They appreciate you when you say a simple thank you and they appreciate you when you make a big hullabaloo with all the trimmings. The best gift you can give to someone who gives their time to you is to give some of yours back. While you think that signing your name to 50 cards is not that big of a deal, your volunteers are extremely touched that you took the time to personally sign their cards.

So go on, get out there and say thank you to some volunteers this week!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On Behalf of the Mayor

Our first meeting was when I was 5 years old. He came over, said hello and asked my name. Then, he gave me a pen and a pin.

For the next 2 years, each Friday at breakfast, I watched him with curiosity as he moved around the room. I watched him as he ate breakfast. I watched him as he let his breakfast grow cold as he talked to a local about her daughter's issues at school.

"He's the Mayor" my mom told me.

On Friday April 22, 1988 I finally spoke to him of my own accord. "I'm working on a project. Can you tell me about the people you meet as Mayor?"

For the next 3 weeks, we spent Friday mornings together, greeting people at the small downtown Kitchener restaurant. We talked about babies and grandchildren, we talked about parks and camps, we spoke with every single person who came in on those days, not about what he wanted to speak about but what they wanted to speak about.

On May 20, 1988 I was waiting as he strolled into the restaurant. Excitedly, I showed him my project. A big red "A" at the top of the page.

"You deserve to be Mayor of the Day" he declared, before giving me an entire baggie full of pins and a handful of pens my small hands hand no chance of gripping. I spent the rest of that day handing out those pens, "On behalf of Mayor Dom" I told each person I met.

We continued to meet at breakfast each week. The venue changed, the man never did. Over 7 more years, I completed 4 more projects featuring him and his relationship with the people in our city.

He taught me about politics. Not about how to win and not about how to make policy but how to make friends. He taught me how to make people feel worthy, even within the confines of a 2 minute conversation.

He wrote me a recommendation letter for college. I sent him a thank you note with a City of Kitchener pin slipped inside.

In June of 2002, we met for the final time. We were both walking in Victoria Park and happened upon each other. I knew who he was but was sure that several years had dulled his memory of me. I was wrong. A handshake and a hug before we fell into a slow step beside each other. We spoke of school and families, marriage and career. We stopped often, reaching down to pick up garbage. He dipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out a paper bag. "No plastic" he told me.

He was my first and most most memorable mentor. He didn't teach me about business, he taught me about people. He often spoke of relationships and taught me his secrets to remembering names and info about the people he would meet. It was an odd affiliation we had... from my childhood to teen-dom and eventually, married in my 20's. For him, the start of his Mayoral career to beyond his retirement and closing in on the start of ill health.

He had time for every person. He championed change and growth in our city. He taught me how to make change in my city, not necessarily within political confines but within the scope of kinship.

To Mayor Dom Cardillo, your life and your character helped shape mine. Your memory in Kitchener will be marked with pens, pins and the rapport you had with almost every citizen. This Saturday, when I treat my sons to breakfast out I will present them with a City of Kitchener pin. I will tell them they're on behalf of Mayor Dom. And then we'll travel to the place where you and I had our final meeting, to join our community in cleaning the park for Earth Day. I can't give you as much as you gave me but I can give you this.