Marlene is a tireless force!
‘Marlene Allen is a tireless force. She never stops moving and will do anything for anyone.’ says Brendan Johnson, Executive Director, Guelph Neighborhood Support Coalition (GNSC).
Marlene Allen has been a key volunteer at the North End Harvest Market (NEHM) for the over 5 years. The Market is a free fresh produce market for those struggling to put food on their plates. Each week the market shares fresh food to feed over 250 community members. People come and shop to select the food they want to take home. Marlene started volunteering during the planning stages and helped to build the market into the welcoming and powerful program that it is today. The Market makes sure that everyone in Guelph has access to fresh and healthy food.
NEHM is more than just food distribution. ‘We feed hungry souls. It doesn’t matter who you are, reach out, we will help you. We are a friendly, safe, non-judgmental environment. Come for produce, come back for friendship and chit chat.’ says Marlene. The market is a place for advocacy, support, and connections to community resources as well as food.
Marlene sets up the market every single week, helps train and support new volunteers, picks up and delivers food. That is what she does but how she does the work is even more important. She is always laughing and making sure the other volunteers are enjoying their work and are looked after.
Marlene told PIN that her favorite time at the NEHM is just before the people come in when everything is bagged and ready to go, then they come. ‘It’s rewarding to see smiles on faces and have people say Thank you. Makes it all worth it. Gratifying’ says Marlene
With the recent pandemic the NEHM was forced to close temporarily. Marlene worked with the Market Manager, Barb McPhee to come up with an alternate plan so that this essential service could continue. They have pivoted to offer curbside pick up and organized volunteers to provide direct deliveries. This helps make sure that the most vulnerable community members are looked after.
‘Without Marlene Allen the NEHM would not be possible. She is amazing and inspiring. I dare anyone to try and keep up with her tireless efforts to care for her community!’ says Brendan Johnson.
The NEHM has needed to double its work during this time to meet the current need, getting over 150 food hampers out each week. This would have been very difficult to achieve without volunteers like Marlene and ‘Adopt a Week’ donations from our community.
For more information about the work of the GNSC and the NEHM or how to make an ‘Adopt a Week’ donation, visit http://guelphneighbourhoods.org/programs/north-end-harvest-market/