Community Living North Grenville (CLNG) collected a mountain of food for the Salvation Army Food Bank during the month of May in honour of Community Living Month.
This is the seventh year that CLNG has collected donations for the food bank during Community Living Month. Organizer and CLNG employee, Kaitlyn Utman, started the food drive as a way to give back to the local community. “Our community has been so good to us, and we have a lot of great community partners,” she says.
To make things even more interesting this year, Kaitlyn decided to organize a pie-in-the-face contest to coincide with the food drive. She gathered about 10 willing volunteers and with every donation people could fill out a ballot to vote for who should get a pie in the face. When OPP Constable Dave Holmes came into CLNG to do a presentation on bike safety at the end of May, he noticed the food they already collected and wanted to get involved. Instead of adding him to the ballot, they decided to put out a new challenge to the community. If they were able to collect another 100 items in the last few days of May, they would pie both Constable Holmes and Acting Inspector (AI) Josh Kingsley. “It was kind of a fun little spin, and we well surpassed our goal. Actually, the OPP also contributed. They, I think, donated 20 items, so they really wanted to be pied. I’m not sure why,” Kaitlyn said, laughing.
Kaitlyn, CLNG’s Bruce Paterson, their People First President Wayne Richer, Constable Holmes and AI Kingsley where all pied in the face over Zoom last Monday with around 30 people tuning in. “We did it on the last day of May to wrap up Community Living Month,” Kaitlyn said. “Kind of like our final event.”
CLNG collected over 600 items with this year’s food drive, a new record for the organization. Director of the Salvation Army, Calvin Wong, says CLNG’s support is much appreciated. “It’s incredible, especially at a time like this when our numbers have more than tripled,” he says. “Our relationship with Community Living means a lot to us.”
Kaitlyn says her goal throughout Community Living Month was to bring as much kindness and positivity to the community as possible. This is why she also encouraged people to pay-it-forward by doing random acts of kindness throughout the month of May. “People would bring in plants from their gardens to share. I received just recently a nice ten-dollar gift card just randomly – I don’t know who it’s from. Some people would drop off cards to some of our residential locations. It just brought a lot of smiles and a lot of happiness to a lot of people.”
With the pandemic, all CLNG’s services have moved online, which Kaitlyn says has been hard for many of the people they support. So much of what they do at CLNG involves connecting with the local community, which has been extremely difficult for the past 14 months. To keep the clients they serve from feeling isolated, Kaitlyn has been bringing the community to them through virtual presentations and activities. Crafts, musical performances, exercise programs, educational presentations like bike and summer safety, a talent show, karaoke and art therapy are just a few of the virtual activities Kaitlyn has put together. She says she loves seeing how much joy the Zoom meetings bring to the people they serve. “It brightens my day just to be able to still connect with them and see their smiling faces. And then when they tell me how meaningful it is and the happiness that it’s brought to them, I just think that’s the reason I’m here and that’s the reason why I started in the field of developmental services.”
Kaitlyn is always looking for new ideas and community partners to keep bringing virtual activities and presentations to their community. If you have an idea or would like to volunteer, you can contact Kaitlyn directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLNG will also be continuing to play a role in supporting the local community by using their sign board to highlight small businesses in the community. Check it out as you drive by their location at 2830 County Road 43!