Jane Berlin and her husband recently moved from Toronto to their farm in Bethany to live on a full-time basis.
It has been difficult to integrate into their new community because of Covid restrictions, but Jane found inspiration from a volunteer group that began in Toronto that call themselves the “Sandwich Sisters”.
The charitable group was launched by Carolyn Quigley. A volunteer at the Good Shepherd, a charitable organization providing services to the homeless and disadvantaged people in Toronto, Carolyn understood the implications of a “Stay at Home” order for that segment of the population.
With their doors closed, shelters were no longer able to serve hot meals, so Carolyn and some friends began to make sandwiches twice a week for delivery to the shelter for its clients. By the December, there were 500 volunteers across the city organized in “pods” making sandwiches on a rotating schedule for shelters across the city. Now they are expanding further afield.
Jane teamed up with the One Roof Community Centre in Peterborough. This shelter is open 365 days a year and provides free meals, professional training, life skills, access to primary health care as well as safe sleeping quarters. They too, are unable to serve meals inside their facility but provide a hot take-away lunch. Jane and a group of eight ladies provide sandwich lunches every Monday which allows the shelter to provide food for a second meal for their clients. Each “sister” prepares two loaves of sandwiches and tosses in extras such as carrot sticks, cookies or other treats.
Sandwiches are placed by the “sisters” in a cooler Jane leaves at the end of her driveway on Monday morning. Often she has to retrieve some of the deliveries mid-morning as the cooler is overflowing before she heads to Peterborough for the lunch time delivery. Arriving at the shelter with her goodies, Jane says the welcome she receives makes her feel like Santa Claus. Their contributions are added to a bag with donations from other local organizations to broaden the menu.
While they don’t make the sandwiches on a video call like the founder does, there is still a feeling of community and connecting for the volunteers in the Bethany pod. The only hiccup so far has been about peanut butter- it’s a go for One Roof.
Jane is hoping to encourage another pod- the Millbrook pod? – to take on lunch responsibilities for another day of the week. Kawartha Food Share also provides food to the shelter, but the sandwiches are filling an urgent need and giving the food prepares a way to engage and give back while respecting stay at home orders. Sounds like a win-win. For more information, Jane can be reached by email Jane@theconstructiongroup.ca. KG