Matthew has been volunteering regularly at our Sunday Drop-in program for many years. Week after week, he comes in to work in the kitchen alongside staff and other volunteers, and serves nutritious food to LGBTQ2S community members.
Matthew’s relationship with The 519 began six years ago when he volunteered at Green Space Festival, The 519’s biggest fundraising initiative. At the time, he had recently come out and was in search of community – a community to support his journey of self-acceptance and offer a safe space for him to be his full self. He quickly realized how rewarding it was to engage with the community and experience joy along their side. That motivated him to deepen his connection with The 519 community.
He volunteered for various programs and initiatives until he saw a callout for volunteers for Sunday Drop-in. He knew that giving time to volunteer at SDI was just the right path for him as it offered a consistent connection throughout the year.
“There is something profound about people eating together and sharing a meal.”
As he continued to volunteer and grow in his career, Matthew started looking for additional ways to give to The 519. He not only became an annual donor, but also started attending many fundraising events that support year-round programming
“When you spend time with folks whose lives are being positively impacted by the organization’s work, you develop a more meaningful bond as a donor.”
His favourite part about his volunteer work in the kitchen is working with different people – and how each one of them brings something unique to his experience. Carl’s creativity with food, Deji’s complex ideas that made Matthew worked even harder in the kitchen, Katie’s warmth and love, Estelle’s incredible passion for food diversity, and Alvira’s strength when it came to opening pickle jars – each staff member and volunteer he has worked with has left an indelible mark on him.
Recently, Matthew decided to make a generous structured donation to the program in memory of Sylvia, an SDI volunteer who passed away.
The recent donation will support an annual social event, Sylvia Social, to celebrate SDI program participants. The donation will also establish an emergency fund to respond to urgent emergency needs of SDI program participant(s). Through this directed giving, he wants to commemorate Sylvia, and give back to folks he has come to know and appreciate through his volunteer work in the kitchen.
Matthew hopes that many more donors will get to know the organization and the programs to make informed choices about their giving. He feels that getting to know The 519 as a volunteer, and witnessing the impact of programs has developed a deeper connection to the community as a member and a donor.
“I got to know the people who work here, and people who benefit from the programs, which made me realize that it takes actions of a lot of people together to make a difference”
It absolutely does. Thanks, Matthew for being one of the people whose actions are making a difference.