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The first day of spring each year, symbolically at least, marks a new beginning to a “growing” year in most of Ontario. It is a time we like to get “back outside” and experience nature and often renew our friendship with “the neighbours.”
This past week has been much like that for many Kingston Rotarians. Our meeting this week you could say asked us to live the idea of service in an experiential way.

Instead of just raising money and giving it to “on the ground” Kingston charities we were given the chance to experience three of them as volunteers for those organization. The charities were:

  • Martha’s Table, an organization providing up to 420 meals a day free to those  living with food insecurity, “precarious housing”, a mobility disorder and/or financial means;
  • Kingston’s Community Food Redistribution Warehouse managed by the volunteers at Lionhearts, who are a food rescue organization dedicated to supporting agencies in our community who feed and care for our vulnerable neighbours an
  • “bgc Southeast” (formerly the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston) who provide a variety of programs for children and seniors.
Of course it was Martha’s Table, the smallest venue with the most intensely used space, who hosted the most Rotarians (Jim Vowles, Rene Marchen, Peter Merkley, Andre Soucy, Marci McMullen, Paul Van Nest, Linda Clouthier, Ken Thompson and Paul Elsley)

Rotarians prepare to work at Martha's Table


Before being put to work cleaning interior windows, and handing out food Martha’s lead coordinator Valery Taylor gave guests a quick tour of the facility.

During the tour I met three volunteers Ruth, Shawn and Stacy peeling up potatoes. It was with a wry smile on her face, that Ruth (behind the pillar with the mask) informed me that she was ninety years old. If ever there was a shining example of the adage “you are never too old to volunteer” Ruth was it.

Meanwhile toiling, in the relative opening of a corner table was Kelly, the meal distribution coordinator, which is a nice way of saying “statistician”. Kelly tracked all of the clients, their location and the frequency of meals.  From her, I learned that many of the meals were delivered, free of charge, to clients who were immobile due to a stroke or disability. Often such folk were “precariously housed” and under significant financial strain. To receive a delivery people had to have an address.

The Kitchen Area

The kitchen cooking area above was adjacent to the preparation table pictured to the right.

My impression upon viewing the kitchen preparation area was how cramped the place was and that the volunteers were doing a phenomenal job day-in and day-out with what they have.

Lionhearts Inc and the Community Food Redistribution Warehouse

Compared to Martha’s Table, Lionhearts’ “Community Food Redistribution Warehouse” (CFRW) is gigantic. It’s 1068 sq. metres could probably hold 3 Martha’s Tables.

The Community Food Redistribution Warehouse


Six Rotarians Dave Short, Don Heath, John Shideler, Monika Cook, Marie Miller, and Lisa Cassidy were on scooping pasta or flour from large containers to smaller more useful sizes.

Why this is necessary is described here by Emma Cox, Facility Manager at CFRW.

In conclusion, Marie Miller describes why she chose Lionhearts and the Community Food Redistribution Warehouse.

Painting up the bgc Southeast facility

My third visit and final place for Rotarians to experience a direct serve experience was to the grand “bgc Southeast” facility. There three Rotarians, President Alicia Gordon, Liz Good and Lindsey Foster, painted the walls of a hallway. Unfortunately, by my arrival they had finished and were enjoying a refreshment in the cafe.


Fellowship over pancakes and maple syrup at the Robinson Sugar Shack

Then on Sunday the Service Day was followed up with a visit to the Robinson Sugar Shack for the annual Family Day Pancake Brunch organized by the “Rural Committee”.

With the maple trees flowing into traditional pails about half of this year's run is complete.

With Rtn. Mike Wilson flipping along side this years Rotary Exchange Student, Bérénice Perrin, the pile of pancakes, didn’t last long, as often three generations would arrive at the same time.  
After everyone was full, a wagon ride, a trip in Rtn Bernie Robinson's ATV and a visit to see the sheep and lambs were a must, especially for the children.
Guests made a donation for the event to go to Easter Seals. $1430.00 was raised for Easter Seals.