CBC Manitoba


For many older Manitobans on fixed incomes the “golden years” aren’t exactly brilliant. Many health-related costs and medications are not covered by Medicare. Food, housing and taxes are taking a bigger bite out of pension income. By 2026, more than 20% of Manitobans will be seniors. How will they afford to live?

Blog- Keith Whitford

Keith Whitford is a 71-year-old pensioner and storyteller.

Day 1

I am going to tell you a little bit about what I do each day to help feed less fortunate people a hot, nutritious meal.

I currently volunteer every weekday morning at Agape Table. I first volunteered for Agape about 25 years ago. Today I sold 60-70 $1.00 tickets for a hot breakfast as well as helped serve over 250 people a hot bowl of soup, some toast and a cup of coffee. My job is to meet and greet these people each day. Some days lately it has been over 350 people. Each day I meet new angels showing up to volunteer to help us. I count each day by the number of thank-you’s received from those as they leave each day. The number of people coming in have increased greatly over the years, along with the number of people who have said thank you. Sometimes people who have not been around for a while show up to bring a donation and thank me because I had helped them in previous months. They all have a beautiful story to tell, such as being reunited with estranged children and spouses. One man in particular wanted to give me money as well as to Agape Table. I told him Agape OK, but for me, take that and buy something nice for your children and send my love to them. He later returned with his three beautiful children who thanked me and gave me a hug and wished me a nice day. It doesn't get any better than that.

There is not too much more that can be said at this time but tune in tomorrow. Keep the responses coming in. I look forward to hearing more stories from out there in web land. Thank you all and have a nice day. God bless.

Day 2

Today, I got up and headed off to Agape, set up the coffee maker, and enjoyed a nice hot cup myself. After that, one of the regular volunteers took over the coffee making duties. Then my next duty is to get the tickets ready for the $1.00 breakfast. I then have an assistant who helps me make up the tickets and by 8:00 a.m. we begin selling them. Then we opened the doors and there were about 30-40 people already waiting to come in. Most of them grab a cup of coffee and have a seat. We began serving the $1 breakfast around 8:30 a.m. By 9:00 a.m. I’d sold nearly 50 tickets. Today we offered scrambled eggs with ham, hashbrowns and a piece of fruit. We fed over 250 people today. I enjoyed both the breakfast and a later bowl of soup. It was quite good today, as usual.

After we close up at 11 a.m. we set up for the food bank. Winnipeg Harvest usually shows up around noon, today they were a little early. We weren't quite ready for them, which caused a little bit of extra scurrying, but the volunteers helped make it happen. We couldn't do what we do without our volunteers. At this point, we already had a few dozen people waiting outside the door for the food bank to open. All my volunteers had not yet arrived, so I asked if anyone else would like to help unload the truck and two or three people were helpful. We had about 70 people on the list for the food bank, and about 50 of them came in. My job is to keep everything running as organized and smoothly as possible. There was more than enough food to go around today, in fact, there was a little left over. The leftovers go to Crossways-In-Common on Broadway for their afternoon drop in, which is another place where I volunteer regularly.

It has been a long day for me and it is nice for me to get back home and relax and think about all the people we helped today in the fight against hunger and poverty. I look forward to tomorrow and continuing telling my stories of hope. Thanks again to everyone who helps me make a difference.

Day 3

Today I started off with my usual routine: a cup of coffee and my usual set up at Agape Table. Today my regular volunteer didn't make it in, so I made a few extra pots of coffee, until I enlisted the aid of another volunteer to help out. Today we served a handful more people than we did yesterday. We had a chicken noodle soup today. Today's hot breakfast was scrambled eggs and farmer sausage. Today being a little short on volunteers to start, I wound up having my own breakfast a little later than usual. At one point I had to decide which to do first: take a quick time out for my cigarette break or have my bite to eat. My nicotine addiction won that fight. There are some days it looks a little bleak and it can get a little stressful when we're short on volunteers. But we always manage to pull it off in the end.

On thing that lifted my spirits was a young man who came in today. I believe he is mentally challenged. He came accompanied by a nice young lady. I greeted him, and asked him his name and said he looked familiar and that I thought I had seen him before. His companion said he had been here the previous week and said he wanted to come back. He was very excited to see that I had recognised him. He proudly announced to many people "I know him! He's my friend!" He was quite helpful, and stayed for an hour and a half or so, and did a great job helping us clear some tables. His enthusiasm and hard work reminded me what we're doing benefits many people in many ways.

I headed home a little early today to relax and enjoy a nice cold one. The rest of the volunteers were kind enough to complete the clean up without me. I'm really enjoying writing these stories as it helps keep my outlook for the future even more positive. With every day that goes by, I always look forward to tomorrow with increased joy and happiness. Thank you and God bless.

I would like to start off today telling you about writing stories for my community newspaper. The West Broadway Broadcaster (broadcaster@westbroadway.mb.ca) Published every 3 months, this is 4th issue I have written for. The newest edition came out yesterday. My job (reporter / ambassador) involves writing stories about angels of hope. This edition my stories are titled "Angels on Broadway" and "Angels on a mission of hope". In one story, I tell about how angels from the neighbourhood came to my assistance when I had a nasty slip and fall while I was on my daily walk. The other tells a story of meeting with others, whom I hope to be a guide for, on my mission to help end poverty and homelessness. I am already hearing positive feedback from several people. In the past there have been hundreds of comments; and to date, they have all been the same...beautiful stories, keep it up.

Day 4

Today I spent a couple hours at my morning job helping to serve bowls of soup and today's free meal consisted of an excellent bowl of chili. As usual, new angels showed up to help. My experiences each day seem to be more and more rewarding. Now I am on a quest to find new volunteers to help me with my door-to-door deliveries of the community newspapers. I was asked if I could oversee the entire delivery this month. The response to my request for volunteers again was once again overwhelming. Thanks to all again who came forward to lend a hand assisting in the deliveries.

I am running out of space for this blog today but I will be back again tomorrow to share more and new interesting stories of hope. Thank you all again, and God bless. Have a nice day.

Day 5

This is now my 5th day of writing stories for my blog. Considering that when I started, I really didn't even know what a blog was, it has been a blast for me. It is my intention to keep writing many more of these beautiful stories. My commitment to write five stories in fivedays has indeed been a challenge as many said it might be. I intend to continue to write future episodes and look forward to receiving feedback from every one of you.

I personally receive very little remuneration from all my charity work. I receive many thanks and blessings. This, for me, is more than enough. I have a reasonable income from old age pension to survive and do not like to make this sound like a plea for anyone to send me money. I enjoy writing about ways to eliminate poverty, homelessness and hunger. After doing this for over a year and receiving all the blessings that have come my way, I would like to send a big thank you again. Keep the replies coming. I look forward to hearing from as many of you as possible. This has to be the start of something good. Have a nice day and God bless.