We’re sitting in the entrance hallway of the BB4CK kitchen after Val and Lisa have returned from their route delivering lunches. They’re both dressed in blue and match the Loud Art Society mural behind them wonderfully, “it’s so colourful here, it’s one of the things that first drew us in” remarks Val as Lisa agrees and adds, “there is a special energy as you walk down this hallway, and it just opens up into the kitchen. It’s lovely.” The two women share how that feeling was one of the things they remember about first visiting the kitchen during Doors Open YYC last September – that and the black bean brownies.
Val and Lisa have known each other for 25-ish years and started volunteering together delivering lunches last fall. “Our husbands are best friends” Val shares, “with our children being out and on their own Lisa and I really felt we suddenly had too much time on our hands. We wanted something to do that was socially conscious, we wanted to volunteer and quite honestly we didn’t know who to go to.” The two discovered Mealshare and through them, learned more about BB4CK.
“We talked about volunteering for quite some time and here it just felt right to the core. The little amount of time it takes to go deliver lunches and the reciprocal feeling of giving is really a gift for us. It is such a kind gift,” says Lisa. Val jumps in, adding, “it’s like when the Grinch feels his heart grow three sizes that day, every day,” the duo erupts into joyful laughter that fills the hallway, “That’s what we get from it. You feel it in your heart!”
Not only do Val and Lisa deliver lunches each week, they have made their volunteer time a social event and introduced many of their friends to BB4CK and delivering lunches. “We live in separate quadrants of the city, so we could go months without actually seeing each other and now I get the pleasure of getting to see Val every single Tuesday. It’s something I really look forward to,” says Lisa as Val nods her head in agreement, “we get to catch up each week and chat as we drive all over the city. We have about an hour of driving together,” shares Val.
“I’ve got a really great community of women around me and I think that it’s really important to share your experience. Awareness is everything, people may not know about BB4CK or Mealshare and it’s about getting the word out,” says Val. The group now bring a number of friends volunteering with them and always end their morning off by going out for lunch together to a new Mealshare restaurant every Tuesday, “it’s become very festive, very familiar.” Establishing that familiarity through friends can play a large part in breaking down any barriers a new volunteer may feel. “Sometimes when I want to go do something I get stopped by an overwhelming feeling of unfamiliarity, a little bit of hesitation, and a little bit of just not knowing where to help or go. Once Val got to know Mealshare and we connected at Doors Open, BB4CK became familiar and any hesitation disappeared since it was Val and I volunteering together. Donating your time is one thing, and wrapping you head around it, but implementing and executing it is the next step and it really makes it easy knowing I was with my friend. Once its familiar you’re just like c’mon guys, let’s all do this!” shares Lisa. “Exactly! You don’t know why everyone isn’t volunteering. I always felt I was so busy, now I feel like this is absolutely part of our routine,” adds Val.
“Volunteering to drive lunches is such a small part and small amount of time yet the gift that it gives back is so exponential and it touches many lives. It is a gift that provides so many lessons too. You can be downstairs waiting for the lunches, and they are a little late and you might find yourself thinking that you’d like to hurry up and get going. Then you go upstairs to the kitchen and you see everything that happened before you to get those lunches to your car and you realize that you’re part of something way bigger. It really helps you put things in perspective. This is a community thing, people are making these lunches with love. People are coming together in the community and this love is being bagged and boxed and it’s going out to the kids.” shares Lisa. “When I drop lunches off at a school, I put the bin on a desk and that might be all I am seeing, however there are lots of lunches in that bin providing for so many children who we don’t get to see and that’s part of the story. You do not visually have to see that. You just know.”
“We’re feeding hungry kids. That’s huge. That impacts you. I’ve never felt hunger, and my children haven’t, and it’s been a big eye-opener to an issue that I didn’t even know existed in our city, and it’s so prevalent. It’s so worth it to be involved in feeding hungry kids. Give it a shot, it’s a small commitment with a big impact. We can all volunteer for something like this,” urges Val, “the more you give back, the happier you are!”
Learn more about becoming a volunteer driver here!