Get to know a Volunteer: Art
Art has been an active Kosher Meals on Wheels (KMOW) volunteer with Circle of Care since 2017. With a deep passion for volunteering, he currently helps deliver food to older adults within the community. Prior to this, Art volunteered at a synagogue with their ‘Out of the Cold’ initiative for several years and helped provide hot meals, clothing, and shelter for those in need.
What inspired you to begin volunteering for Circle of Care?
I am a bit of a social person and have always gained a deep satisfaction from the connection I have with individuals. As I was approaching my retirement, Circle of Care’s Kosher Meals on Wheels (KMOW) program seemed like a natural opportunity for me to remain socially active and engaged with the community while supporting others.
Has volunteering changed for you since the start of COVID-19 & what impact did the pandemic have on your volunteering experience?
With the exception of several weeks in the earliest days of the pandemic, I have been able to remain involved, working with the KMOW team to deliver meals to older adults in need of support in the community. The contact with KMOW clients throughout the worst of the pandemic – and since – has enhanced the importance this service plays in their lives, as well as the gratitude they feel for such a small but important relationship. Many of these clients were completely isolated from any human contact. It remains deeply rewarding and satisfying to be able to see the positive impact a brief connection and conversation with them brings.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the unwavering kindness, good humour, and professionalism of the KMOW staff who do the hard work to ensure that the meals and their delivery occur in a seamless and effortless manner, day in and day out. It’s a pleasure and an honour to be a small part of it.
Has volunteering changed your outlook in any way?
Volunteering hasn’t changed my outlook as much as it has deepened my appreciation of the huge impact it has on clients. This brief connection is such an uplifting moment for so many folks who otherwise may find themselves homebound and isolated.
What’s one positive impactful moment at Circle of Care you remember?
During the pandemic, KMOW and MOW volunteers were asked to leave meals at the front desk – instead of delivering the meals to the clients’ doors. I had a new client in a building I’ve never visited before and the concierge would not allow me up in the building, and they wouldn’t allow me to leave the food at the front desk either. I called the client and waited for him to come downstairs to take the receipt of the meal. After calling him and waiting several minutes, the gentleman came downstairs.
It was to my surprise to see the client in a wheelchair. I was so aghast that security would require him to make his way to the lobby, making him go through the difficulties of descending a high-rise building first thing in the morning in a wheelchair to get his food.
After that day, I connected with the building’s management company and explained the situation, and after a long conversation, I was allowed into the building to deliver the meals to the client’s unit, saving him from having to meet me in the lobby in his wheelchair.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who is thinking of volunteering?
The delivery of food to clients is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. The brief but regular client contact, the “good morning”, “how are you”, and, the frequent exchange about the day’s weather seems so innocent and fleeting. But, after the regularity of it over weeks and months, it becomes a rich basis of a relationship that so many clients seem to show such a deep appreciation for.