Make the Season Kind: Recognizing Harvest Volunteers

We asked Harvest Manitoba affiliates to nominate outstanding volunteers that deserve to be recognized for the positive impact they're making in Manitoba’s food banks. These are the unsung heroes and heroines nominated by friends, peers and loved ones for making a difference in their communities. 

17 Manitobans nominated for their impact at food banks

(CBC Manitoba)

CBC Manitoba's Make the Season Kind annual holiday campaign kicks off this Friday, December 4, 2020 in support of Harvest Manitoba. For volunteers at Harvest Manitoba's 350+ affiliate organizations, making the season kind extends to work carried out not only during this holiday season, but over the course of the entire year.

'Feel the Stars' is an inspirational song by Manitoba's Keith and Renée (Keith MacPherson and Renée Lamoureux) in celebration of Harvest Manitoba's 35th anniversary. / Harvest Manitoba

We asked Harvest Manitoba affiliates to nominate outstanding volunteers that deserve to be recognized for the positive impact they're making in Manitoba's food banks. These are the unsung heroes and heroines nominated by friends, family, peers and loved ones who are making a difference in their communities. 

CBC Manitoba accepted nominations until Monday. Meet your 2020 Harvest Stars. (Nominee biographies submitted by nominators.)

Alyssa Kauk

708 McCalman Ave.

Make the Season Kind nominee Alyssa Kauk. (Submitted by Penny Kau)

Nominated by Penny Kau

"Alyssa has been with us from the start. She has shown commitment by consistently being there for others. She has a kind heart and will go out of her way to make clients' visits a good experience. She is more than half the age of most volunteers, yet her patience is beyond her years. Her love of the Lord is demonstrated through her tireless work at our food bank. When we've held a hot dog day or hosted a BBQ with our clients, Alyssa can typically be found mixing in and chatting up everyone! She's always the last to leave, and makes sure our space is ready to welcome everybody for the next time. She has a heads up approach which is needed and appreciated, and runs her section of our food bank with great thought. She follows direction well and works great with all of the team. Loved by all."

Cara Borkowski

Home Plate

Make the Season Kind nominee Cara Borkowski. (Submitted by Meg Gray)

Nominated by Meg Gray

"Cara started attending Home Plate approximately 5 years ago and shortly thereafter asked to volunteer. Since then, she has become a valued member of our team. Cara has shown us her incredible resilience by sharing her personal struggles with others. She's always thinking of other people and consistently demonstrates this through her efforts - she's always the first one to give to others, especially those that she perceives are more in need. Cara has shown loyalty to Home Plate through her unwavering commitment to the organization. We at Home Plate are incredibly grateful for her presence."

Carol Meijer 

Living Word Temple

(CBC Manitoba)

Nominated by Justin Dueck

"Carol has been volunteering at the Living Word Temple food bank for a couple of years now. She always comes to volunteer with a smile on her face and a big, loving heart. She is compassionate and patient with everyone she meets, and people find comfort in being around her peaceful presence. She always encourages other volunteers as well as staff.

Our volunteers have helped to make our Tuesday food bank days one of my favourite days of the week. I can count on our volunteers to treat clients with compassion and dignity, and Carol is just one of those people who personifies what our food bank represents. She is loving, compassionate, and caring. Even during this stressful year of the pandemic, Carol continues to volunteer consistently and always maintains the compassionate nature that lives within her heart."

Claude Verrier

Cornerstone Foodbank

Make the Season Kind nominee Claude Verrier. (Submitted by Jordan Siemens)

Nominated by Jordan Siemens

"Claude always helps out at the Cornerstone food bank. He never misses a day. He comes to volunteer early, stays late, and always asks how he can help, unless he's already found something to help with. Claude is so warm and affectionate, he makes our food bank clients feel welcome and safe. Claude is a genuinely lovely person to be around. He's always smiling."

Claudia Schmidt

Red River Valley Food Bank (Morris, MB)

Make the Season Kind nominee Claudia Schmidt. (Submitted by Patricia Rempel)

Nominated by Patricial Rempel

"Claudia Schmidt is our front-line worker at the Red River Valley Food Bank in Morris, MB.  She is the masked person who greets clients from a distance as they enter to pick up their groceries. She is quick with a kind word, a joke and a warm presence. Claudia calls each person by name, treating everyone with respect. She also volunteers at the local Valley Regional Library, delivers Meals on Wheels and is active in the life of Morris United Church.  She is always willing to lend a helping hand. Claudia is known for her thank you cards, and acknowledging the work of others in the community.  Thank you, Claudia, for being a bright light in the midst of this pandemic." 

The Corona Crew

The Oakwood Community Table

Make the Season Kind nominees ‘The Corona Crew’. (Submitted by Belinda J. Knopf)

Nominated by Belinda J. Knopf

"We have been operating as a food bank under Harvest Manitoba now for 8 years. When we took on this opportunity to serve our community, we had approximately 45-50 people come forward to volunteer. In a church of 90 regular attenders, that is amazing.

Pre-COVID, we had 6-8 people on rotation, working every other Saturday, sorting, serving food and visiting with our "peeps" - our clients from the area. We also have a roster of drivers who are still on a regular schedule. Besides serving those who register with Harvest, our doors are open to all who need help.

Since COVID, many changes were instituted, so in order to best serve and protect our volunteers and our peeps, we limited the number of volunteers needed at each food bank. Since March, there have been 3 of us and until more recently 4-5 - that's it, every 2 weeks we come together, Gary Thiessen, Chelsey Hiebert, Janelle Peterson and myself.

From our little church on Oakwood, where we can't meet to worship, we come to meet, greet and serve those who need help - sometimes you cry, sometimes you laugh, most of all, we just care for each other (without hugs, unfortunately).

The photo I am attaching are members of the "Corona Crew" who were volunteering during our Halloween food bank. Serving isn't about just about one person, it's about a unit, who operate as one." 

Craig Beauchamp

St. Mary's Road United Church

Make the Season Kind nominee Craig Beauchamp. (Submitted by Bell Beauchamp)

Nominated by Bell Beauchamp

"Craig is a very good person. He's very helpful at the St. Mary's Road United Church food bank. He takes time to help others at all times and is always going way beyond what is expected of our volunteers. Craig has worked at St. Mary's Road United Church food bank for 2 years and just 3 weeks ago, he became an Assistant Coordinator."

Doris Orchyk

Portage Avenue Food Bank 

Make the Season Kind nominee Doris Orchyk. (Submitted by Lynne Cook)

Nominated by Lynne Cook

"Doris has been involved with the Portage Avenue Food Bank at Prairie Spirit United Church since 2008, first as a volunteer and then as a coordinator. Doris has gone above and beyond to bring attention to our food bank and its needs over the years. She has invited government officials (both federal and provincial) to visit the premises to gain a better understanding of our community's needs as well as increasing the visibility of the food bank in our community and raising awareness about food insecurity. She designed an information pamphlet and display board about our organization, which is used in our marketing campaigns to attract new volunteers. Doris also acts as a liaison with the church congregation to keep everyone informed about our activities. She also helps us shop twice monthly for extra food using monetary donations directed to the food bank from donors. We are so fortunate and grateful to have such a dedicated and selfless volunteer like Doris."

Hilde Purdy

Feed My Lambs

Make the Season Kind nominee Hilde Purdy. (Submitted by Reynold Friesen)

Nominated by Reynold Friesen

"Hilde has been the driving force behind Feed My Lambs organization for over a decade. Feed My Lambs Street Mission provides food, friendship and compassion. It delivers food to the homeless right where they are - on the street. The organization operates mobile food banks in poorer inner city neighbourhoods and to senior shut-ins in the North and South Point Douglas area. Every Friday afternoon Hilde and her team of volunteers load up their van full of food at Harvest Manitoba and then return to serve the residents of Point Douglas. Hilde has an incredible heart for those that often fall between the cracks of social services and other agencies. Hilde will be winding down the operation of Feed My Lambs this December and this recognition is a fitting send off to thank her."

Isabelle Garand

Chez Rachel

Make the Season Kind nominee Isabelle Garand. (Submitted by Sonia Grmela)

Nominated by Sonia Grmela

"Isabelle has been a dedicated volunteer at Chez Rachel for many years. She is also one of our board members. Her volunteer work on behalf of Chez Rachel is very appreciated and varied. She is always the person we know we can count on for an unexpected need at a moment's notice (this can happen quite often in a women's shelter). Isabelle's commitment to sustained volunteer work on behalf of our organization in areas such as finance, editing documents, translation and also directly assisting our residents is remarkable. Her many years of experience as a teacher brings so much knowledge and talent to Chez Rachel. She understands children's needs and supports families. For the past year, she has been picking up snacks for our organization from Harvest. We are so grateful for all of her help."

Janice McWilliams

Harvest Manitoba

(CBC Manitoba)

Nominated by Jamie Antonowich

"Janice McWilliams is always pleasant on the phone and helps clients out with all of their booking needs at Harvest Manitoba."

Lindie Bright

Harvest Manitoba

(CBC Manitoba)

Nominated by Jamie Antonowich

"Lindie works in administration and at the front desk of Harvest Manitoba. Lindie is always available to lend a hand.  Be it shredding paper, data entry or greeting volunteers at the front door, Lindie is always willing to do whatever is needed."

Michelle Marie Amiotte

Southquill Health Area Foodbank Inc.

Make the Season Kind nominee Michelle Marie Amiotte. (Submitted by Heather m Parrott-Howdle)

Nominated by Heather M Parrott-Howdle

"Michelle has always stepped up to volunteer her time at the Southquill Health Area food bank. She leads with a community first approach. She volunteers to post upcoming food bank events, accepts registrations, and greets clients that we provide hampers to each week with kindness and humor. She shares her ideas with enthusiasm and is committed to helping the food bank meet the needs of the clients in our area. She has also reached out to neighbouring communities to provide assistance in helping them establish their own food banks."

René Dupuis

Accueil Kateri Centre Inc. (Ste-Anne, MB)

Make the Season Kind nominee René Dupuis. (Submitted by Armande Leclair)

Nominated by Armande Leclair

"Accueil Kateri Centre Inc. is proud to nominate René Dupuis as one of our outstanding volunteers. René has a great concern for people in need. Since his retirement he has volunteered at Harvest Manitoba and also Helping Hands in Steinbach. When René got word that some people were discussing the possibility of a food bank in Ste-Anne, he voluntarily attended the meeting in November 2014. He has been dedicated to the cause ever since. 

Throughout his various professions/careers, René has always been active. He is definitely what you would call a "man of action." No need to ask him twice to do something, he will jump to the occasion and get it done ASAP.

René is very generous with his seemingly boundless energy and with his time, dedicating an unlimited number of hours to the food bank.

René is focused - his plan of action is carefully drawn out in his mind and he executes it accordingly. Some of his accomplishments include applying for grants for the food bank, thoroughly investigating all venues before the food bank buys anything, establishing good relationships with the community and suppliers, collecting food items (anytime is the right time for him), sorting and organizing the bread, pastry and meat for every distribution and the list goes on.

When Accueil Kateri Centre Inc. was granted money to build raised garden beds at the three schools in our catchment area, guess who took over the project? Always reliable René."

Siva Nadarajah

Sri Satya Sai Baba Centre of Winnipeg Inc.

Make the Season Kind nominee Siva Nadarajah. (Submitted by Manohar Menon)

Nominated by Manohar Menon

"Siva uncle as we fondly refer to him at our Centre, has been associated with the Sai Centre's Harvest food distribution since 1997, when the Sai Centre moved into what was then a church at 790 Banning Street.

Siva has been the mainstay of our service for the past 23 years and has missed serving only when he was out of town. Our scheduled distribution day is Wednesday, and come snow or rain, Siva uncle shows up at the Centre around noon with a couple of other volunteers to receive the food truck. He always sets things up for the evening food distribution which starts at 7 p.m. and often goes to 8 p.m. He's also part of the food distribution, in rotation.

Siva uncle demonstrates empathy during the service and continues to inspire many other volunteers to this day. He truly embodies the words of our Baba - 'hands that help are holier than lips that pray'. Siva uncle is a humble man of few words. We rarely see him in the limelight which is why I felt it was important to recognize his years of selfless service to the community."

St. Mary's Academy students and staff

First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg

Make the Season Kind nominees - the students and staff at St. Mary’s Academy. (Submitted by Deborah Lake)

Nominated by Deborah Lake

"For 14 years, St. Mary's Academy students and staff have walked across the street on Thursday mornings to volunteer at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg food bank. 

This partnership has been a win-win for all involved.  Students learn how food banks work and provide an important community service. Students and staff bring liveliness and good cheer that lift the spirits of food bank clients and church volunteers alike.

Before the pandemic changed our practices, our food bank was set up to simulate a shopping experience. Clients would move from table to table and choose the foods in each category that they prefer. 

Because different students came each time, they were partnered with experienced church volunteers. They sorted, counted and packaged food items, informed clients of their choices, and helped some clients carry their food. Occasionally, St. Mary's Academy students offered treats that they had prepared at school for clients to enjoy with their coffee or tea while they waited for the food bank line to start. 

Despite the restrictions brought on by the pandemic, St. Mary's Academy remains connected. They are contributing funds to our annual "Orange Appeal" so that our church can once again offer boxes of Christmas oranges to all food bank clients for the month of December. 

We appreciate the kind, efficient and gracious support of the staff and students of St. Mary's Academy. May their stars shine bright this season!"

Therasa Hunt

Main Street Project

Make the Season Kind nominee Therasa Hunt. (Submitted by Karen Murison)

Nominated by Karen Murison

"Therasa has been a volunteer with the Main Street Project (MSP) at our food bank since it first opened 3 years ago. She is an absolute joy to spend time with and is well liked by staff, fellow volunteers, and especially the community members she serves. The MSP food bank serves some of Winnipeg's most marginalized people and Therasa faithfully shows up every Thursday to greet our community members, sign them into the food bank, and now during the pandemic, provide masks and sanitizer.

Not only does Therasa work diligently every Thursday to provide a judgement free and dignified shopping experience for our community, she does so with joy and warmth. Therasa greets all community members with a kind and welcoming smile, and works to create meaningful relationships with everyone that walks through our door.

More recently, over the past eight months, Therasa has been a true hero for the MSP food bank. Deemed an essential service, Main Street Project continues to keep its food bank doors open. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we drastically limited volunteers working in the space, and we understandably lost several volunteers who needed to remain home during the pandemic, and more specifically, during Manitoba's current Code Red restrictions. Therasa has stepped up and continued to help operate our Food Bank throughout this time.

Main Street Project would not be able to continue providing its services without volunteers such as Therasa. Her dedication, kindness, willingness to step up and help out wherever she is needed (including volunteering in other departments when needed), and her dedication to creating a warm and welcoming environment for fellow volunteers and community members makes her someone truly worth recognizing and celebrating."

Can you help make the season kind? Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Harvest Manitoba is in need of volunteers to keep warehouse operations and food banks running smoothly this holiday season and beyond. If you are able to spare a few hours of your time during the week or weekend, Harvest Manitoba can pair you with an organization in need.