With CAWI since 2004, Cathy Hamilton is always present at the civic engagement tables – Making Voices Count and Maamawe – and last year she started a remarkable volunteer project, the Clementine Towers Food Pantry. The pantry delivers fresh produce and grocery items for the residents of Clementine Towers, in Heron Park, every Thursday. After trying to pick up items at the nearest food bank for her neighbours and learning that each person needed to go there, Cathy had the idea. “Many neighbours have mobility impairments, and two kilometers is too far for them to walk. I couldn’t stand to see my neighbours, all elders, experiencing hunger on top of the isolation COVID brought. I witnessed people fainting for not eating anything in a day”, tells Cathy.
The Clementine Towers Food Pantry relies on donations and volunteers. Cathy Hamilton says that her experience with CAWI was fundamental for her initiative. “It was here, with these women that are my family, that I saw how powerful mobilization can be. I realized how much we achieved together and the change we can bring about when looking into our communities’ necessities, [this] is something that CAWI brought to my life”, Hamilton states. “I also learned how to speak and pitch my ideas to anyone, from neighbours to politicians, skills that are my bread and butter for keeping the pantry going for a year now.”
Among the stories she gathers from the pantry, Cathy tells a special one, with tears in her eyes: “One day a younger man came to the pantry in a very aggressive manner, but I can’t allow people to leave without any food, so I gave him a bag. The other week, he was back, with a banana and an apple to donate. He was an example of how everyone just needs a hand in a moment of need and always wants to help. This is something that I believed my whole life and CAWI encouraged me to put it into action”.