Back in the days, when I was younger, my sister would do a lot of volunteering and I would simply not get it, I would wonder why you should spend time doing something for someone else and not get any money for it. Well, that has changed over the years. Now I get it and I love volunteering and volunteer almost ten hours a week.
What happened exactly, I’m not sure, I guess I just realized that it was nice to help others without expecting anything in return, plus it makes you feel really good about yourself. So I thought I would share my different experiences as a volunteer in Montreal over the past ten months.
I got back after almost five years away from Montreal and had a lot of time on my hands while looking for the perfect job. I figured I should do something useful and helpful instead of just wasting my time online. Also, I thought it would be a great way to meet new people and it has been indeed.
So I started volunteering. My other sister had volunteered at Robin des Bois a while ago and I was curious about it. Robin des Bois is a non profit restaurant which gives all their profits (including any tips) to organisations such as SunYouth, Le Chaînon, Le Refuge and Santropol Roulant. Most of the waiters and kitchen staff are volunteers.
Having never worked as a waitress before I was happy to find out that no experience whatsoever was required to volunteer at the restaurant. Patrons of the restaurant are fully aware that the waiters/waitresses are volunteers and have no crazy expectations of perfect service.
Signing up is ridiculously easy, you go to RobinDesBois.com and in the volunteering section you can sign up with your email. You check out a date that would suit you as well as a time and decide if you want to be in the kitchen or in the dining room and then you just need to show up on that day. You also don’t have to commit to be there regularly, you can go once or go all the time, it’s all up to you.
I did a few Monday nights at Robin des Bois and met a lot of different people from different age groups there for different reasons. It was a lovely experience and I will surely do it again in the future.
At pretty much at the same time I decided to check out Santropol Roulant. I had heard about the organization before and was interested in finding out more about it so I signed up for an information session.
When I walked in the funky building at the corner of Roy and Coloniale, I felt very welcome and loved the energy of the place right away. I am now a regular volunteer helping out with meal deliveries as well as with special events.
Santropol Roulant is a non-profit organisation which uses food to break down social and economic isolation with the purpose of strengthening and nourishing the community. They have a meals on wheels program as well as gardens at the Roy location, McGill campus and a farm in Senneville. There is also a bike shop called Santrovelo, where you can fix your bike or build one from scratch.
Volunteers run these activities, you can volunteer in the kitchen for the meal preparation, delivering the meals, helping out with the gardens and much more. Santropol Roulant doesn’t require a minimum commitment on your part either which makes it nice and easy for you to give your time when you have time. You can check out SantropolRoulant.org for more info.
While checking out the volunteer section on Craigslist I discovered the Burrito Project and was intrigued. So I showed up on a Sunday at the People’s Kitchen in Concordia to find out what it was all about and met a small group of dedicated volunteers who get together every Sunday for a few hours to make a lot of vegan burritos.
Lots of veggie slicing is required and then once everything is ready it’s filling and rolling time! Once all the burritos are ready, it’s time for delivery.
We go out in the streets and offer burritos to people who might be hungry. Some burritos are kept for sale at a few locations such as Co-op Maison Verte in NDG, Le Frigo Vert at Concordia and AUS Snax cafe at McGill. This funds more burritos as well as free socks and menstrual pads for people in the streets. It’s a great project and it’s only one day a week, on Sundays starting from 1230pm.
There are of course many more organisations to volunteer for in the city. These are only a few that I have discovered. I hope this article may inspire some of you to give your time and help someone for nothing in return.