For 57 years Anglican Social Services – Centre 454 has been building community with people living on the margins. We come together in an atmosphere of acceptance and respect to support and care for each other as we journey through the challenges – and the joys – of life. Centre 454 is one of four community ministries of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa – a drop-in day program where trained staff provides support services and social activities for individuals living in poverty in our community.
Volunteers are an important resource at Centre 454. They provide needed support to our staff and participants and they, in turn, learn many things while they are here. One of our volunteers expresses his experience this way:
I volunteer at Centre 454 on Murray Street. Almost three years ago my wife and I moved to the Byward Market area. I chose to volunteer as a way to understand my new community and to do something that might help the people on the streets. Just giving the spare change in my pocket did not seem sufficient or even very helpful.
Every Thursday afternoon I answer the phone, greet visitors, take reservations for laundry and chat with staff and participants. In a small way I have helped, but in a much larger way I have learned about the diversity of people who live on the streets and the important work that professional staff do to help them.
Volunteers provide hospitality to our participants. They assist in the kitchen, ensuring the coffee is ready and available in the mornings and afternoons. They work at reception, answering requests from our participants for socks and underwear, making appointments for laundry, and checking mail and telephone messages, among other activities. Volunteers also engage in our social recreation program, playing cards, doing a puzzle, and chatting with our participants.
In our setting, volunteers need compassion and the ability to be non-judgmental, to ensure that those who come to the Centre feel welcome and a part of the community here.
Another volunteer comments:
As a volunteer, I find a lot of satisfaction helping and talking to people. People who use Centre 454 could be anybody. People that use the Centre run the whole gambit. It is important to talk and treat people as equal. It is good to hear what they have to say.
Volunteers can help in many different ways, either at the Centre, at home, or in the community. For instance, volunteers can help by organizing a toiletry, sock or underwear drive in their workplace, community centre or religious congregation. They can make cookies, muffins or a nutritious snack for the participants at home and then bring the food to the Centre. And the Centre is always looking for people with special skills and interests, such as arts and crafts, and music.
It takes a lot of people to build community. Together we can make a big difference in the lives of many.
Want to volunteer at Centre 454?
Find opportunities and read more about Anglican Social Services – Centre 454 on Volunteer Ottawa’s website.