As an active volunteer at Metro Community for five years Ben W. has seen first-hand the difference volunteering has made in the lives of people. He has also learned that there are a lot of caring people out there and he is encouraging others to volunteer and make a difference. While Ben seems outgoing and gregarious, he is actually a shy introvert who works hard at appearing outgoing. He has lived in Kelowna for 24 years, the past six years with his “lovely wife”.
“I volunteer at Metro, which is an outreach to the homeless which gives people a place for breakfast, lunch, and coffee,” explains Ben. “People can come in and relax, which is what I love about Metro. We’re able to connect with people where they actually feel loved and cared for.”
“I would say that it’s easy to be discouraged with the problem of homelessness and addiction, and it sometimes seems unfixable,” adds Ben. “But we have seen lots of people’s lives changed, where they move off the streets, become productive members of society, and are healthy and happy. We’ve had people come back to thank us and they’ve said that Metro is the only place they really felt loved.”
Ben is able to see the difference he and others volunteers make in people’s lives and encourages others not to be intimidated because the problem seems unsolvable.
“How do you really make a difference with people? One person at a time,” states Ben. “A lot of people think that we’re not making a difference for the drug-addicted. But we are actually saving many lives and getting people off the streets. The problem is that more and more people are becoming addicted, perhaps a sad commentary on the loneliness and helplessness people feel in our society.”
Noting that some people they serve have passed away, Ben remarks on the urgency and need in the community. “We must keep forging ahead, because everyone’s time is limited, and often people living on the street are more vulnerable than most. You don’t always realize the difference you are making in someone’s life. With volunteering at Metro I have found even many small things have made a big difference in the lives of people around me.”
Volunteering makes Ben appreciate what he has, restores his faith in humanity and reflects his beliefs. “It is important to show Christ’s love because of how much he’s shown he loves me,” says Ben. “Christ has a heart for the poor, and so should we.”
Metro Community offers a variety of ways for volunteers to get involved and focus on trying to connect volunteers with roles that are fulfilling to them and also most meaningful to the community. If you are interested in volunteering with them, you can find more information at www.metrocommunity.ca/volunteer. Metro is preparing to host their biggest fundraiser Coldest Night of the Year on February 25 and that are many ways to get involved, from fundraising to entering or joining a team for the Walk. For more information go to https://cnoy.org/location/kelowna.
Dorothee Birker is the communications and development coordinator for KCR Community Resources. If you are interested in sharing your volunteer or organizational news, please contact Dorothee at email@example.com.