One Tiny Difference

by Katherine Cleverley, CVA student volunteer

For the past couple of months I have been volunteering weekly with CVA at the Beasley Breakfast Program downtown. I’ve always seen volunteering as an important way to reach out to the community, and I’ve volunteered at hospitals in Hamilton and Toronto for years. I enjoy that work, but in volunteering at the Breakfast Program I am getting to know the city in a completely different way. I see the same kids every week, and this has allowed me to really form a connection with some of them. I’ve seen kids who, at first would not say a word, become some of the chattiest kids I know. A few of them have opened up to me about their lives – about the difficult things they have gone through. I try to give the best advice I can, and I hope I’m making a difference, but I think the effect they have on me is at least as great as the effect I hope we, as volunteers, have on them.

Kathryn (second from left) with the Friday Breakfast program volunteer group that Marybeth facilitates, meeting for reflection at a coffee shop to discuss what we’re each learning from our service experience.

The Breakfast Program is a great project, and sometimes I wish there was something more I could do. When one of the organizers mentioned, on a particularly chilly day, that some of the kids came to school without proper gloves, hats, or scarves, I decided that this was a mini-project that I could undertake. I offered to buy some gloves from the store that I work at and bring them the following week. I also remembered that at home in Toronto my family has a cupboard full of winter items that we rarely use. As chance would have it, my mum was coming up to Hamilton that weekend, and she was more than willing to bring up whatever she could find. The following day at work I spent my break collecting gloves I thought would fit, and bugging my co-workers about what style they thought would be most appealing to elementary school kids. The next Friday, armed with a bag of scarves from home and a bag of gloves from my store, I headed with the other volunteers to the Beasley Community Centre. As the kids headed to school after the Breakfast Program, we handed out the gloves and I helped the kids who didn’t have scarves choose the most attractive ones. The kids were really excited, as most of us are when we are offered free items, and luckily we managed to have more than enough gloves and just enough acceptable-looking scarves for everyone that needed them. I was so happy that I could make that tiny difference that day, and I think that’s all that anyone can really ask for – that every day we make one tiny difference in someone else’s life.