A Circle of Belonging and Connection

Volunteers Barbara and Evelyn love the chance to build friendships and community.

Every week, newcomers to the community meet at Sunnydale Community Centre to take part in an English conversation circle.

Barbara and Evelyn, two volunteers who lead the group, said it’s often about much more than trying to learn to speak English more fluently – it’s about finding a community.

“I think it’s less about the English and more about making friendships and connections. And often, Barbara and I can sit here and not say much at all,” said Evelyn. “We’ll have a lesson plan, and they’ll start talking about where to find good used clothes. And that’s okay.”

One day, a woman from Eritrea, who had no English at all, showed up. She had grown up in such an isolated area that she had never even seen a pencil before coming to Canada.

“When she came to the door, she looked terrified,” said Barbara. “It took a while to find somebody who spoke her language.”

She joined the circle and eventually made some friends and became part of the community.

“It made me wonder, how would I cope if I were dropped off in the middle of her village?” said Evelyn. “I am so often impressed by the courage and determination shown by the people who come to our conversation circle.”

Women who join the conversation circle can get connected to other House of Friendship services at Sunnydale, whether it means meeting with a Family Outreach Worker or finding out about after-school support for their children.

But what Barbara and Evelyn find most meaningful about their volunteer work is the friendships forged over a simple conversation.

“I love discovering where they are from, what it is like back home,” said Barbara. “And we find out what we have in common and just end up seeing people as people.”

To learn more about volunteering at House of Friendship, visit: www.houseoffriendship/volunteer.

Posted on: August 4th, 2023

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