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Heroes of Heron Emergency Food Centre - meet one of our clients

"I thank you so, so much for helping us. You gave us a beautiful Christmas and it honestly changed my life"

by Lynn Sherwood, February 2019

Well, the holiday season has come and gone and most of us are busy coping with the Ottawa winter - and trying to pay down our credit card bills before we get the property tax notification – at least I am.

For HEFC, however the task is a bit lighter this year because of the wonderful support of our community over the holiday season. Board members have been busy attending church concerts and community events and have gratefully accepted substantial donations from many local churches and community organizations. Your generosity is both heartwarming and reassuring in these cynical times. Our Heroes this month are the folks in our community who have take time during a busy season to think of the less fortunate among us and who have donated so generously to HEFC. We are indeed grateful, and so pleased to be able to share good will to all through the most basic of gifts – food.

Staff and volunteers at HEFC regularly witness the importance of your donations to our clients, but it is not often that we are able to demonstrate just how much your generosity means. I want to share with you all a thank you received from one client who visited HEFC in December (shared with his permission.)

“I went to your location last week, out of a sense of desperation, sadness and despair. I must say I was very embarrassed to have been there, for the first time in my life. As I explained to the wonderful intake lady, I had back surgery last year, and it’s been very hard to find steady, full time work since. We are behind in rent and money is non-existent. I was pretty emotional through the entire process there. Then the miracle happened.... the people there made a beautiful package, including a wonderful little turkey that I cooked yesterday. Fresh potatoes and other fruits and vegetables. Canned foods... milk... coffee.... even chocolates for my wife!! (And me... I admit). It was a beautiful Christmas dinner that we shared with another couple in our building and we are all so, so thankful to you all. Your help, and your wonderful patience and treatment of me when I was there was so appreciated and I will never, ever forget this. I thank God for what you did for us, and I promise I will return your generosity and spirit tenfold when I am able. I thank you so, so much for helping us. You gave us a beautiful Christmas and it honestly changed my life. Thank you. “

While our mandate is to provide an emergency three-day supply of nutritious food to our clients, it is always wonderful when folks from the community donate tasty “extras”. Small luxuries, such as coffee and chocolate, provided by our donors during the holidays make a huge difference to our clients who are coping with bleak and depressing circumstances beyond their control. This thank you communicates how important such generosity of spirit is for our clients. Thank you for the chocolate and coffee, whomever you are. Seemingly small things can make a huge difference to the lives of people you do not even know.

The winter season is difficult and depressing for those with few resources and choices; the number of clients we serve always increases during the winter when seasonal employment is limited and folks with physical disabilities have difficulty getting out and about. In December, while we were open only 14 days because of the holidays falling in the middle of the week, we served 1700 individuals.

Housing costs in this city continue to increase and many people must choose between food and shelter. The supply of rental apartments for low to moderate income earners continues to diminish, and many vulnerable people at risk of losing their housing. Many of us are one pay cheque, or one health emergency away from food and housing insecurity. We at HEFC are unable to assist with shelter, but we can provide some relief through our food program. Your donations of money – and even chocolate on occasion – make a very big difference in the lives of many people down on their luck.

Members of the Board of HEFC are happy to attend your events or fundraiser- to talk about the service we, all together, provide for our community. We even have a PowerPoint presentation ready to go! Call us at 613 737-9090 or e-mail us at for more information.

Heron Emergency Food Centre is located at 1480 Heron Road and is open 4 days a week to provide emergency food to people in need in Ottawa South.

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