Gabrielle: September Volunteer of the Month
Gabby is a model problem solver and is excellent at putting in place personal & professional boundaries. We are fortunate to have her on our volunteer team in the HOPE Stylin’ Clothing Market!
Gaby, what brought you to HOPE House?
I moved here and I’d never lived on my own. I had nothing. I was at the Community Mental Health Centre talking with my support worker and he mentioned HOPE House. I was really anxious because I’d never been for any help in my life because I was fortunate enough not to have to. But it came to the time when I had to. I was so nervous about coming in and my worker had said, don’t worry about it, it’s a nice place, the people are great. I remember being at the bottom of the stairs and hearing everybody talking in the Cafe as I walked up. As soon as I went to reception they were so friendly with me. It was just incredible and they took me in for groceries and clothing and it was that day that I asked if I could volunteer because I just wanted to give back to the community. I just loved it here. I’ve been here about 5 years since.
What do you like about volunteering at HOPE House?
I like it when people come shopping and it makes them feel good. And they say “oh this is so nice to be able to come and shop” and I understand that because I’m low budget too and I like to go out and shop and it’s just nice to see the smiles on their faces. We had one lady this morning and she was just so excited about finding a jacket and shoes and it’s just like, that’s great. That’s what I like about it. I love to see their day made.
The donations we get, we’re so fortunate. We didn’t used to get a lot of donations when we first started because we weren’t well known. Now people just drop things off and we get help from monthly Givers of HOPE like the Attic, Smitten, In Order Co., Consign Your Curves, and Giant Tiger. It’s really about community. They ensure we are guaranteed consistent, high quality donations. We get some incredible name brands and people get really excited about that too. It’s like, wow, Levi’s or Guess or Jacob Marcs. You’d never buy that. You could never afford it. So I really enjoy that. It’s kind of like a treasure hunt.
And how have you seen HOPE House change people’s lives?
I’ve seen a lot of people come to HOPE House and end up volunteering and feeling like they’re part of the community. They used to be alone and not talk and now they’re helping unload the van, in the kitchen, in the food market. There’s so much community at HOPE House. It’s been a big change since we first opened. There’s been a lot of changes for the better. A lot of the volunteers are friends. I have a lot of friends at HOPE House. There’s so many people that’ll say hi to me and I’ll say hi back and it’s really a community. It’s almost like family. I make plans to go out with people outside of HOPE House to do art, enjoy bbqs and that’s all new, in just the last year for me, really getting close to people. Because I used to be the same, right, not really getting close to people. But now that I’m here it makes me feel good, makes me feel like I’m loved.