What is one of the most important qualities that we value in our volunteers at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank (GVFB)?

It may sound simple, but it is empathy.

Empathy is the fundamental character trait that allows one to connect with and understand the people around us. It is the first characteristic that comes to mind when we think of our wonderful volunteer, Marilyn.

Marilyn standing by the Community Agency Coolers.

Marilyn works closely with our Community Agency Partner (CAP) team. She is the first smiling face to greet our visiting CAPs as they pick up their orders. She ensures that our CAPs feel welcomed by going over our menus, sanitizing the fridges, and even helping them carry the food to their cars!

One of Marilyn’s favourite things about volunteering is knowing the CAPs’ impact on their communities. “I love meeting the representatives from the various agencies. I love hearing how many people they support and how they are giving back to the vulnerable populations in our community.”

Before joining as a regular volunteer at the GVFB, Marilyn worked in several industries throughout her life. From an ESL teacher working with Chinese international students to a train conductor in BC, she is a jack of all trades!

As a second-generation Canadian citizen, Marilyn empathizes with the struggles that many new immigrants, including her grandparents, have endured when settling into a new country.

“When I see people lining up at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, I think about my students and grandparents from time to time,” Marilyn recalls. “My grandparents moved from the old country and didn’t have any support systems or Food Banks similar to what we have in place now.”

Many GVFB clients are new immigrants to Canada, such as Saeid and his family. We try to make our new Canadian neighbours feel welcomed because, like Marilyn, we empathize with their struggles as they settle into a new country.

“Volunteering at the GVFB fulfills one’s empathy because you never know when you could be in that situation to require support.”

Thank you, Marilyn, for your warmth, friendly smiles, and humbleness!