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Revisiting Volunteer Week

Last week, we celebrated National Volunteer Week. OIM’s work would not be possible without the energy and dedication of the more than 200 volunteers who support OIM’s efforts to come alongside and support those struggling with homelessness and poverty in our Nation’s capital. It is my hope that as the week went on, every one of our volunteers was appropriately saluted and was made aware of the gratitude of our program leaders, our Board of Directors, donors and, in fact, everyone committed to OIM’s work.

Some of our volunteers, such as those involved with Street Outreach, Door Outreach, Winterwear, Special Meals, IVOS and Innercity Arts connect with and assist our Street Friends at some level every day of the year. Others take on roles supportive of these ministries. These are the resource volunteers, the administrative help, the meal preparers and servers, and the sandwich makers.

What does commitment look like at OIM?

Last year our Street volunteers walked a total of 3,700 km. During these walks they met up 23,540 times with Street Friends who received basic essentials, conversation and prayer when invited. This means they walked the equivalent of:

• the circumference of Ottawa 10 times; or

• Montreal and back 9 times; or

• Toronto and back 4 times; or

• Vancouver (and stayed to swim in the Pacific or ski) once.

Filling and pulling heavy carts, they served the equivalent of the entire population of Owen Sound, my birthplace near Georgian Bay.

Their work is possible because of the commitment of our Resource volunteers. These individuals arrive at OIM daily to take in, sort and count, and fill shelves for the Outreach teams with donations of socks and underwear, coats, winterwear, shoes and boots, groceries, backpacks, blankets, sleeping bags, toiletries, and other gifts. The space allotted for these items is not too different from what one would find in a small general store.

Also essential to Outreach are the sandwich makers. We estimate that last year, Street and Door outreach teams handed out close to 30,000 sandwiches to Friends they encountered on the street or at the door. As one who does not love making sandwiches, I consider this effort to truly be gift from the heart!

Our program volunteers (those working alongside the youth and Veterans) bring very special gifts of compassion, constancy and patience in their efforts to provide help and referrals and encourage program participants to become their best selves.

The numbers tell a remarkable story about love, compassion and endurance. Even though Volunteer Week has now passed, we are keeping these amazing soldiers for Christ in our thoughts and prayers.

~Margo Dewar, Managing Director

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