A Family Away From Home


Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with the incredible volunteers and clients at the Bathurst Finch Community Food Space.  Located in a tiny room inside Northview Heights Secondary School, the hustle and bustle of getting prepared for the upcoming drop in made the room buzz.  Operating outside of school hours, volunteers make sure the shelves are stocked and fridges full to help community members put food on the table.

Elis, who manages the food space, treats everyone that enters like family.  Everyone is in this together and a VIP in the eyes of the caring volunteers.

One of the VIP clients using the food bank is Anna.  Anna has been living in Canada for 11 years after leaving Uzbekistan because she was unable to find work.

After working 9 years at local Russian grocery stores, Anna had a child named Nikita and found herself out of work in order to take care of him each day.  She had to go on social assistance but unfortunately that wasn’t enough to cover all of her expenses from rent and utilities to food and baby supplies.  She was in a bind.

While searching for a way to get baby powder and baby food, Anna came to the Bathurst Finch Community Food Space. When she arrived, the helpful volunteers let her know that not only she could receive baby products, but she was also given food for herself.  Anna was amazed by the kindness and generosity that was located right in her neighbourhood. She has been coming to the food bank for the past year now which has helped her stretch her small income.

To get to the food bank, Anna walks with Nikita in his stroller.  During the harsh winter months, she was unable to take her stroller through the icy and snowy sidewalks and had no way to access the food bank.  Thomas, a volunteer, took the time to drop off food to her home for three months so Anna and Nikita wouldn’t have to go without.  “It was amazing that someone was willing to come and help us out when we couldn’t get around,” says Anna, “the food bank volunteers are wonderful!”

After Anna’s father passed away, her mother is still living in Uzbekistan alone.  Anna hopes that her mother will be able to join her in Canada so they can be together again.  “If she comes to stay with me, she’ll be able to help take care of Nikita so I can go back to school and get a full time job,” says Anna who dreams of becoming a paralegal one day to support her family.

Anna would recommend that anyone who needs help in her neighbourhood visit the Bathurst Finch Community Food Space.  “They are so caring and have been so helpful to Nikita and myself. If someone is in need of help they will bring you in and treat you like family.”

At the Bathurst Finch Community Food Space, it is about more than just putting food on the table, it’s about bringing family to that table.

Would you like to support people in your local food bank like Anna?  Make a donation here

Want to join a team of volunteers making it happen in the food bank? Check out our latest volunteer opportunities

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Thomas Bernard June 16, 2017 at 9:50 pm

This a very lovely, compelling and true story… as I am the Thomas in this storyline. I do have one correction…and as a past copy proofreader, you need to make one correction. It is in the paragraph starting with “After Anna’s father passed away”…Next sentence… “she’ll be able to help take care of Nikita” …NOT Thomas. Just thought I would help clarify…but, nice article. Thank you for including Anna and Nikita in your post…she was very excited for the notoriety to participate. Anna has had many struggles as a single mother in a foreign country, and a would be father who disappeared with the news of her pregnancy. I understood and sympathized with how hard it is, when one feels desolate with little friends, no family, very minimal finances and in a foreign country. All I could do as a volunteer, after speaking with Elis, was to extend our hand and hearts as family, and treat her as one of our own. Elis sympathized, and acknowledged that it was OK and appropriate to drop off food during the cold winter months when her long walk, almost from Steeles Ave. when sidewalks sometimes don’t get plowed, would be a blessing. Anna and Nikita are certainly in a better place now, and with the thanks of the genuine volunteers of North York Harvest Food Bank. Don’t forget to make the correction. Thank you, Thomas Bernard

    Lauren Skippen June 20, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Hi Thomas,

    Thank you so much for pointing out that error, it has been fixed.

    Also thank you for sharing your thoughts and being a very important member of the NYH family – together we are a community that works together to make it happen!