I am Sharnelle, a volunteer at heart and have worked in the NPO sector for over a decade. Over this period I have been priviledged to work with people from all walks of life: young, old, at-risk, incarcerated, both locally and abroad – I thought I’ve seen it all, up until I joined The Hope Exchange team in July 2019.

I worked in the admin block and would assist the social care team where needed, I knew we worked with clients living on the street, I understood that many were vulnerable, I had a great sense of thankfulness as I entered the gates to start my days work but my soul truly opened the first time I experienced the Feed5000 campaign.

I was the designated hostess during 2019 Feed5000, in a nutshell ensuring everything ran smoothly each day during the campaign this meant that I would be frontline and centre and truly see the impact something as simple as giving a meal with a smile would mean to someone that has nothing more than the clothes on their backs.

There was the odd client who would complain or put up a fuss, but for the most part you would see the hoards of clients entering the gates almost looking dispaired and then leaving fresh and clean, with smiling stomachs.

I have had to endure some tough times in my life but never to this extreme, I would go home with tears in my eyes knowing that so many people were struggling daily and had to find a means to cope. I was especially sad for the children, as this could possibly be the only life they ever know if they are unable to break the cycle and then I simply realise that it could happen to anyone of us.

I don’t know everyones story and I am not here to judge, all I see is circumstances of an ‘everyday’ person and realise that the work we are doing although a drop in the ocean makes the greatest impact.

This year I’ve been asked to manage the project and it has truly been a priviledge and am thankful to each person that donated, volunteered and supported us throughout this period. 

Although it meant many sleepless nights, countless meetings, editing blocks, ensuring volunteers book and join the campaign, trying to raise funds, heaps of admin work, writing reports, dealing with the odd unruly client, Covid-19 and the list goes on… 

All I can say is no matter how tough the day got, and there were many tough days, I just knew in my heart of hearts it is well worth it!!!

Written by: Sharnelle Cader

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