People and programs 01/08/2014

Having survived both illness and trauma, Zenon came to The Stop as a volunteer over two years ago. He had undergone heart surgery, followed by four months of weekly rehabilitation appointments. When his rehab ended, he was looking for opportunities to connect with others, and learned about The Stop’s community-based programming. Zenon wanted to get involved to make a difference in the lives of others. He did not anticipate the tremendous difference that participating as a volunteer at The Stop would have in his own life.

Zenon volunteers every Monday, serving meals in the Drop- In and supporting weekly social events. He has become an integral member of the Men’s Cooking Group, learning a range of cooking skills. “I’ve definitely expanded the types of ingredients I use and the variety of dishes I can make,” he explains proudly. “Over time, regular program participants become mentors to others. We support each other. At the end of the session, we all sit down and enjoy our meal together.”

Most recently, Zenon participated in The Stop's 10-week Community Action Training course, which helped him to further connect his personal experiences to those of other community members, and develop skills as a community advocate. Zenon has also become an avid gardener, working regularly in our community gardens and greenhouse. “We are all like the plants in the garden,” he says. “The Stop provides a safe environment with rich soils – programs – in which we can put our roots down. We are unique, individual plants growing together to form a beautiful diverse garden; alone we are weak, together we are strong.

“Everyone has something to contribute when we are working in the garden,” he explains. “In nature, everything is interconnected and interrelated. By working in the garden, we become producers and partners with nature, instead of just passive consumers. Plants remind us that life is a process; we are all works in progress. We are all in the process of becoming.”

— From The Stop's 2013 Annual Report