As summer goes on the need for volunteers and extra hands at the Salvation Army in Williams Lake becomes all the more important.
The Salvation Army in Williams Lake was founded to give new hope and real help to the people in the community who need it the most.
Their drop-in centre is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. while the Salvation Army’s food bank is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, serving about 500 families in the area per month with 273 children in those families.
Tamara Robinson, the director of family services and community outreach for just over four years now, said that she loves the frontline work she does every day with the people. Robinson said both she and the organization do a lot of work tackling addiction and getting people the help or resources they need.
She’s also in charge of organizing the meals they offer, breakfast and lunch, every Monday through to Friday with breakfast happening from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. and lunch from 12 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. Recently, Robinson said that longtime volunteer Dina Kennedy and others have also taken to going out in their emergency disaster truck, awarded to them after the 2017 wildfires, on Saturday nights with hot food in the result of an emergency. Volunteers meet at the Salvation Army at 8:30 p.m. to reheat soup and prepare other foods before going out to the community at nighttime from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. handing out blankets, food and toiletries to homeless people opting to sleep outside.
“We’re in desperate need of volunteers. We have about 60 volunteers on file and about 30 of them are regular people who come in but of course, with summertime, a lot of them are going on holidays,” Robinson said.
“There’s no way we can do what we do here without volunteers, we’re a not for profit with no government funding and we rely on grants and proposals that I write and our thrift store to keep us afloat.”
Currently, Robinson said they are really in need of anyone with any kind of soup making expertise, or even just a willingness to learn, to help provide the lunch they offer every week.
Volunteers in the kitchen usually start at 9 a.m. and work until around noon cooking up two big pots of soup to feed upwards of a 100 people a day alongside prep cooks, who are also needed, who chop up fruit and vegetables for salads.
They also need help in their food bank to stock shelves and manage inventory and Robinson said she’s sure they need volunteers for the Salvation Army Thrift Store, as well, to sort clothes and put price tags on items. Currently, to help plug these gaps, Robinson said she ideally needs about four new volunteers a day except for on Thursdays. She added they are currently working on some partnerships within the community that, if they come to fruition, will require more hands to sort a fresh influx of food.
Robinson said they offer training on the spot to any who step up to lend their services and will work with anyone regardless of their own challenges or schedules.
“Everybody is capable of helping and we like to give them that opportunity. If you volunteer we will do references for future job employment and if someone is looking to get into cooking, we have a full industrial kitchen so it’s a good way to get those skills,” Robinson said. “We accept anyone who wants to volunteer with us, we’re happy to have everybody.”
Helping the “wonderful people” who come through the doors and putting a smile on their face is very rewarding, Robinson said, and she likes giving back to the community these people are a part of.
Prospective volunteers can either come into the Salvation Army and see Robinson in person or contact her via phone at 250-392-2423, ext. 208 or by e-mail at email@example.com to being the process.
Volunteers are required to adhere to a code of conduct, which includes respecting everyone who comes through the doors, signing a liability form and submitting to a fully paid for a criminal record check.