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Get to Know a Fellow Volunteer: Yona Barzilay & Vered Tal

Yona Barzilay and Vered Tal are volunteers with the Kosher Meals on Wheels program at Circle of Care. They have been volunteering with the program for around 40 years.

1) What inspired you to begin volunteering for Circle of Care?

Vered: After my kids grew up, I started to realize that I had a lot of free time on my hands, and I wondered what I could be doing. I decided to start volunteering with the Meals on Wheels program, because I really like talking to people and it’s nice to bring them food.

Yona: Vered was my neighbour at the time, and she told me about the program, and got me involved.

2) Is there a specific moment you recall while volunteering that made you feel like you made a real difference?

Vered: There’s one woman in particular – she doesn’t speak English, and we don’t speak Russian, but we still manage to communicate. We’ve had to call the doctor for her before. We know that delivering meals makes a real difference for her.

Yona: But also our other clients too. We can see that sometimes the food we bring is the only food they have.

3) Has volunteering changed your outlook in any way?

Yona: Volunteering has shown us that volunteers are desperately needed in every field. It’s also made us both much stronger advocates of volunteering. I just talked my hairdresser into volunteering. My granddaughters volunteer, and I’d like to think it’s because of my example. It’s a wonderful thing to do!

4) What makes a good volunteer?

Vered: Well, for our role of delivering KMOW meals – you have to wake up early in the morning!

Yona: You have to be the kind of person that is always helping. As a volunteer, you have people counting on you, and in desperate need of a smile.

Vered: Also, I grew up being taught to always help other people. Even if you only have a little bit of food, you share it. So, this has stayed with me, and I think this attitude helps to make a good volunteer.

5) What advice would you give to someone who is considering a volunteer position?

Vered: You have to enjoy being around new people, especially if you are going to be delivering meals because you are meeting so many new people when you start your routes.

Yona: And you have to be committed. Being steady and responsible is very important. You can’t just volunteer once. Our clients rely on stability and dedication.

6) What are your interests outside of volunteering?

Vered: My family!

Yona: My grandchildren are very important – I’m helping to plan two weddings for them right now! And I also want to improve my computer skills, so I’m working on that right now.

7) Do you have any words to live by?

Yona: Give back to the community.

Vered: Yes, it’s always a good feeling when you give back to the community. I agree.

8) What is the most recent book you read?

Vered: Oh, I read a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. Just whatever book I happen to take off my shelf. I read a lot in French, because my family is originally from Morocco.

Yona: I’m currently reading The Ladies’ Paradise by Émile Zola, in Hebrew. It’s a translation from French.

9) Where is “home”?

Vered: Home is where my family is. I’d say Israel, because that’s where most of my family lives.

Yona: Canada first, because most of my immediate family is here. But also Israel, because I have siblings and other family there too.

10) Chocolate or vanilla?

Yona: Chocolate

Vered: Vanilla…and chocolate!