Jean’s Compassion Brightens Her Community
“All of my volunteer experiences have been a blessing in my life and have helped me to grow into a better person” says Jean Berner. “I became involved with Chalmers Community Services through my Church, St. Andrews Presbyterian. Mission and community outreach are important in the life of this church and, it is through my fellow congregation members who also volunteer at Chalmers, that I found my way here.”
As one of Chalmers Community Services Centre (CCSC) Food Pantry Volunteers, Jean readies the pantry by portioning rice, cereal and tea. In addition, Jean puts out fresh produce, eggs and cheese, weighs food donations and puts items on the shelves. “Jean helps distribute that food, treating every guest with respect, dignity and her own unique blend of kindness and humour” says Sarah Dermer, Program and Volunteer Co-ordinator.
Jean has dedicated Wednesday evenings to Chalmers for 3 years “and that would be enough” says Sarah, “except, Jean also volunteers on Tuesday mornings. In all seasons, all weather, no matter how heavy the load, Jean moves boxes and boxes of donated bread back to the centre, weighs and portions all that product.”
Twice a week would be enough right? “except she does other things, too” Sarah continues “she mentors new volunteers, she talks about CCSC to the community during open houses and community events; Jean has a deep commitment to what happens here; her contribution is an important part of our vision where our community is flourishing with dignity, equality and food security.”
“Chalmers treats all of their guests with respect and dignity and I am honoured to be part of this team” shares Jean “I love meeting and interacting with our guests at the Wednesday evening pantry. Our guests are patient and laugh along with us as we (the volunteers) bump into each other trying to restock the line while still serving them. I feel as if I have developed as many relationships among our guests as I have with the people I volunteer with.”
“I think I was born to be retired! My life is very full” says Jean. Delving into family history, coffee dates with friends, new and old and giving; “I am part of a sponsorship group that brought a Syrian family to Guelph last year” shares Jean, “what began as supporting them as they adjust to life in a new country with a different culture and language has developed into a friendship. I even get to babysit their two youngest children!”
Thank you, Jean, your genuine compassion and giving spirit makes a difference in our community.
To learn more about Chalmers Community Services Centre , visit chalmerscentre.ca