Volunteer Recognition – Fran Barker

Fran volunteers in our food bank as our Food Bank Coordinator. Here, in her words, is a bit about her and what she does here.


When did you start volunteering at St. Vincent Place?

I have been with St. Vincent’s from the beginning, in 2003. A group of us actually painted, cleaned, and organized the building which once housed the Catholic Centre. It was a lot of hard work and lots of fun!

What made you decide to volunteer here?

I was looking for some way to get involved with the community, to meet other people, to give of my time, to be useful and help out where I could. Volunteering here gives me the perfect place for my energy and to put my faith into action!

What do you like best about it?

What I truly like best about volunteering at St. Vincent’s is knowing that we are helping to – hopefully – ease the burden of everyday stress for our clients. Also best (if I can have two) are the many wonderful friendships I have made through the years. St. Vincent’s is family to me, I truly love to come in and help out where I can.

What’s your best memory at St. Vincent’s?

Best memories – there are many! We have had so many positive feedbacks from clients, from thank you letters to the many hugs, plus monetary gifts. That one is always amazing to me as they have so much else on their plates!

One in particular is a client who was raising her grandaughter on a fixed income. She loved the fact that St. Vincent Food Bank offered a package recipe* to make rice krispie squares so they could bake together! We take this for granted, but for her it was a beautiful gift.

We have clients who are thankful for what St. Vincent’s offers. There are stories – some funny, some sad. That is how we, hopefully, learn not to judge.

Can you walk us through “a day in your life” when you’re volunteering here?

I will go in and make sure the shelves are stocked for the upcoming food bank day. Maybe clean desks, sweep or scrub floors, make sure we have enough forms available.

On occasion I will make calls to social service agencies to follow up on clients when our intake workers have concerns. I also make sure, through Nat [GM], that we have ample supplies for the upcoming food bank. I make sure Linda receives the log book sheets and food donation sheet.

That said, we have an absolutely wonderful group of volunteers in the food bank and we all share these chores!

Then, if there is time, I love to help out in the thrift store to help Elizabeth when they are shorthanded.

My favourite part is sharing smiles and stories with all those who make St. Vincent’s what it is! It really is all the many who give of their time that really makes the wheels turn and make this a successful and loving place to work.

*Food Bank volunteer Debbie Pulente puts together packages with recipes and the required ingredients for clients