July 3rd, 2019
Meet Antonio, an amazingly dedicated and compassionate individual who has been volunteering with Food Stash since its’ beginnings. On a weekly basis, Antonio picks up Rescued Food Boxes from our warehouse and delivers them to the homes of several families including his own. Antonio immigrated to Canada 4 years ago with his wife and now 17 year old son. Since then, he has received permanent residency and is avidly applying for citizenship in the coming months.
Antonio’s story with Food Stash started over a year ago when he was referred by Watari to participate in the pilot of our Rescue Food Box Program. Generous and kind in nature, he was always keen to help out and offered on many occasions to volunteer with the organization to help support other families.
And so the story grows…
Antonio has been volunteering with Food Stash every week for the past year, delivering rescued food boxes on his way home from work to all of our Surrey family recipients on a weekly basis. Having recently changed jobs, he continued to come from his home in Surrey to complete the pick-up and drop-off of these boxes.
When asked why he does it, Antonio casually replied,
“I see their faces (the families) when I drop off the boxes and they are happy (...) some children are so excited to go through the box to see what’s in it and what’s new! It’s very good to see their faces.”
Antonio is no stranger to volunteer work, as he has been volunteering with many organizations since his arrival in Canada. For the last 4-5 years he has been volunteering with Watari as an interpreter/driver/support worker to help migrant farm workers gain knowledge about their rights in Canada, access healthcare services when needed, help them fulfill the most basic needs such as accessing food, and facilitate events and spaces where everyone can come together and socialize.
“They come from Guatemala, Mexico, the Philippines, Jamaica (...) they come here to work for 6 months, sometimes a year. They are far away, they do not speak the language, can’t drive and don’t know how to take the bus so I help them move around”.
Keep in mind that these migrant farm workers, in most cases, work 7 days a week, extremely long hours, and in remote areas which make it very difficult for them to access any support at all.
Antonio has been doing this work with Watari in a volunteer capacity until he was offered the role as a paid position last May. He also recently decided to return to school. He now studies at BCFED in the Occupational Health and Safety course as well as the Mental Health First Aid course.
“To be honest when I was at home, I used to be a paramedic for the Hondurian Red-Cross and I want to get involved in Canada (...) but whatever I used to do in my country, now in Canada, all the titles and education are useless, I have to start over.”
He studies in the hopes of becoming either a Safety Instructor (Specifically utilizing his Spanish-speaking abilities) or an interpreter for immigrant families and workers.
When we asked Antonio what he thought of our Rescued Food Box program he said:
“It’s been a lot of help. It’s a lot of things that sometimes you don’t expect but it’s nice to know that it’s (the box) always coming.”
For Antonio’s family, the boxes cover for a lot of their weekly groceries. They still like to buy some specialty items that are reminiscent of Honduras such as beans, plantains and tortillas. Even though the boxes contain over 40 pounds of food, with a growing teenager who plays soccer, Antonio says that sometimes the boxes only lasts a couple days (or sometimes all week)—it all depends on what’s in the box. “In my opinion Food Stash is one of the best things that ever happened, it’s a lot of help with the environment (...) it’s fresh and it saves a lot of food from going to waste.''
“In my opinion, volunteering is one of the things that makes you more comfortable with yourself, it’s like a passion. When you see the people and their happy faces you know you’re doing something good. You are helping families build together, be strong and also saving the environment at the same...it’s amazing. I would like to invite as many people as possible to do that so they can experience the feeling. It’s a good thing to do”.
Many thanks to you, Antonio, for offering to be our very first Stash Story. Your positivity and compassion radiates to all those around you and we are so lucky to have you as part of the Food Stash family.