Dear Neighbour,

My name is Sharon.

I first came to The Local six years ago at the urging of a friend. I had just lost my spouse after an extended period of being his caregiver and was having trouble adjusting to that loss. I came to the senior’s lunch and soon was coming every week. I love meeting people and taking part in things and The Local provides me with many opportunities to do this.

The Local really did save my life in many ways…

I have met people here who have become very good friends. I enjoy volunteering in several programs where I can pass on the knowledge that I’ve learned to others. It is such an uplifting experience to be in this building.

My doctor is particularly happy that I come to The Local – my health has improved tremendously because I am now eating better and taking better care of myself. You wouldn’t believe the variety of vegetables I have been exposed to in my FoodFit class! Graduates of the program still regularly get together to share new recipes. We encourage and support each other to continue eating more healthfully and getting regular exercise — even if it’s just a short daily walk.

I love using the different spices and herbs I’ve learned to use at Community Kitchen, a weekly drop-in program where anyone can help make a delicious meal to share among neighbours.

Like many people I know, I’ve too often had to compromise nutrition in favour of cheaper, processed food on account of inadequate income. Since The Local opened its Community Access Market which sells fresh produce and local meats at prices I can afford, I no longer have to sacrifice my health because of budget limitations. I have lost a lot of weight and am very active in everything that happens here.

Most important, however, is the feeling I have when I walk through these doors. It is such a positive, warm, welcoming environment to be in. All of the staff greet me by name and have taught me so much — about food, yes, and how to cook and grow it — but also that I have dozens and dozens of friends and neighbours that I can count on when I need a little help. I have been taught also that, in return, my skills and energy are valued by my friends and neighbours who need it.

Please consider donating to The Local Community Food Centre this holiday season. Your contribution will help so many continue their stories too.