"Good morning. Most, if not all of you, will know me as Allison Wilcox, long time member of Augustine United Church. However, given our location today, I’ll feel more comfortable if I add my apron, and of course, my signature hat. Ah, that’s better. Now, where was I….?
Oh yes, I’ve been asked to speak today about why I volunteer. Good question. The answer has evolved over time. 

My very first involvement with Oak Table goes back to when our son Ethan was in Sunday School and Jordan Cantwell was in the pulpit. She introduced the children to Oak Table, and how it served the community. At her suggestion, the children began bringing a tin of tuna, or soup for the basket each Sunday. So, we were involved way back then, but from a distance.

Then a few years ago, a change in my work schedule allowed me to become more actively involved as a Monday volunteer. Initially I saw it as an opportunity to give back to those who might need some extra care and attention. I’d enjoyed a privileged life, so it made sense to pass those blessings on. Obvious, right? 

But what I hadn’t expected and couldn’t have known was how much I would gain from the experience. So, why I volunteer:

To learn from, and work alongside, fellow Augustinians like Bev Ridd and Maureen MacIntosh from my first Team Monday. And, in recent years, Barb Fletcher, Enid Butler, and Gloria Dow. 

Once Nigel was able to, he joined the party and Oak Table became a family affair. When COVID concerns depleted our volunteer pool in March of last year, we added Wednesday to our schedule. Double the days, double the friendships, double the fun.  Our twice weekly pandemic social group was established! This is why I volunteer.

For the satisfaction of finding a recipe that incorporates cottage cheese, jicama and kale, tastes great, and can stretch to feed a hundred. 

For the teamwork that pulls together 10 minutes before opening to make 120 sandwiches when we realize that due to a mix up, our catered lunch isn’t coming. 

For the smiles and expressed gratitude for a warm winter coat, or new socks, or hygiene products or a bus ticket. This is why I volunteer.

A COVID silver lining for me is that we have had to record names each day. As a result, I can greet almost all guests by name. Our names are important. I know the guests want to be seen and appreciate when they are. It’s all about making connections. 
So, why I volunteer:

For Brian’s newest song, bumping elbows with Gordon, and hearing all about Roland’s latest generosity, 

For the chance to practice my Spanish with Elsie, my French with Lucille, and my basic phrases of Tigrinya with Adam,

For canine cuddles with Jaxon and Thor,

For celebrations of Joanna’s new apartment, Lele’s latest exam result, Brad’s new job,

For check ins with Denise, Dawna, Simon, Alex and Hayden, 

For chats with Gail, Dan, Darryl, and Janet, 

For shared laughs with Audrey, Rob, Cal, and Bradford. 

And the list goes on…

This is why I volunteer."