National Volunteer Week: Andrei

Andrei knows what going to bed hungry feels like – he grew up under the Romanian dictatorship. When he was part of the Occupy Toronto movement, he slept in a tent in St. James Park, and interacted with the homeless individuals who came for the free meals that were handed out. But for him, being part of the community around him isn’t a choice.

“It’s important to be involved in social issues,” he says. “People that have the time or have the ability should get involved.”

When the new year started, Andrei started looking for a way to give back to his community. A quick web search brought him to Homes First and he was surprised to learn there were two shelters close to home in Scarborough. He sent his volunteer application on January 1st and before the month was over, was volunteering at the two Homes First shelters in Scarborough. Two days a week quickly became three when he learned kitchen staff at St. Clair could use an extra pair of strong hands to help with deliveries.

“Not to say that the ladies there aren’t strong themselves,” he quickly adds.

A long-time volunteer, Andrei has spent time with NGOs, political parties and lobbyist groups. He finds that volunteering to help those experiencing homelessness is the most rewarding.

“Homelessness doesn’t have a conservative or a liberal or a socialist perceptive. Anybody can end up homeless and anyone can end up in a tough situation,” he says. “We all have to acquire money for food and shelter ourselves, but for me it’s just rewarding to make that extra step to help out somebody else without asking for anything in return.”

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