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Life of Canadian PI by Ethel Clemente Fernandez

Helping hands at Winnipeg Harvest

by Ethel Clemente-Fernandez

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Orientation at Winnipeg Harvest
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The chapter’s work at Winnipeg Harvest marked its first community service

When the Filipino Members Chapter of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba (FMC-APEGM) first raised the idea of choosing a meaningful community service through a survey, Susan Lim, Engineer-In-Training, responded, “This is one of the best ideas to give back to the community. I’ll be participating for sure.”

This and other positive feedback inspired the FMC executive committee to turn to Winnipeg Harvest to schedule an afternoon of group volunteering activity. This is the first time we connected our members to help out in a charitable institution, thereby accomplishing one of the chapter objectives – to engage and participate in community services.

On the afternoon of October 22nd, more than 20 members and friends of FMC showed up and enthusiastically gathered at Winnipeg Harvest’s office. Most volunteers were first-timers, who had no idea what to expect, except that they are there to help out with sorting, bagging or packaging.

As this is the chapter’s first involvement with Winnipeg Harvest, an hour of orientation and a quick tour of the facility was included as part of the afternoon’s itinerary.

At this orientation, we were provided with intangible benefits, such as getting to know some of the myths and facts about Winnipeg Harvest. Among them, the common public perception that they are a food bank, when indeed they are not. We learned that they gather food from large food manufacturers, distributors, farmers and members of the public through food drives and donations, and then distribute them to food banks. We were asked to guess how many people they currently serve per month, which we replied with a figure we thought was already an high estimate, but fell way below the number given us. Winnipeg Harvest currently serves over 60,000 persons per month with over 40 per cent being children under 18 years of age. There’s also the intention to help break the cycle of unemployment by offering training and learning opportunities to those they serve.

A tour of the facility showed us what happens to the food they gather, areas where they provide training, where they provide food and other services they offer to volunteers. With the overwhelming amount of food donations they receive on a daily basis, it is no wonder why help from volunteer groups are greatly needed.

For the volunteering part, we were split into two groups. One group bagged and re-packed flour, while the other group went to sorting area. While there and doing the charitable work, the chapter members also had a chance to chat, catch up with old acquaintances and get to know new members and friends.

The afternoon went by quickly and before we knew it, our volunteering time was over.

Indeed, nothing feels quite as good as helping out and it was extremely rewarding to see the joy and satisfaction on everyone’s faces, knowing that the three hours spent that afternoon was one of the best uses of their precious time. With what I witnessed, I am confident that this will be the first of many community service projects that the chapter will undertake.

On behalf of the volunteers, I’d like to thank the staff members of Winnipeg Harvest who accommodated us that afternoon, which made this experience a very meaningful one.

Ethel Clemente-Fernandez is a professional engineer registered in the province of Manitoba. She is an active member of the Filipino Members Chapter - Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba (FMC-APEGM).