Passing of the Torch

Posted June 29, 2017 by

I think it was about eight years ago that I began to volunteer in the clothing area at Chalmers. At the time I was still commuting to Mississauga so my involvement was every other Friday. Sorting and arranging clothes on tables (before we purchased racks) was definitely not my favourite activity and so I spent most of my time chatting with guests, mostly listening to their stories. I’d never had this kind of connection with folks who live vulnerable lives before and yet I marvelled at the willingness of many to share their life stories. I came to realize that for a lot of those guests, Chalmers was a place where they felt safe enough to open up to people who they usually would only see once a week.

John Buttars was chair of CCSC at that time and had steered the organization through some very difficult times which I only got to learn about later as I was still pretty much on the fringe of the organization. I had known John for about thirty years both as minister and friend and so when I heard that the board was looking for new members, I signed up. I wasn’t immediately aware or hadn’t been paying attention to the fact that my first year on the board was John’s last year as chair. Halfway through that year he laid it on the line that CCSC needed a new chair in a very few months. I remember asking my wife Jill if she thought I could handle the job. Her response was fairly typical and encouraging – “of course you can”. So I called John and told him I would be willing to put my name forward. His response was also affirming – “I think you’ll be great”.

Five years later my time as chair has come to an end and I am enormously pleased that Heather Allan has taken on the role of chair and, to quote John, I think she’ll be great.
Five years may sound like a long time and yet it feels as ‘tho it’s flown by. CCSC has evolved and grown and yet still adheres to the same fundamental philosophy that we greet all guests with respect and dignity.

Personally, the experience of chairing the CCSC board has been incredibly rewarding and enriching in many ways.

Working in Mississauga, my experience of poverty in Guelph was very limited until I started to volunteer at CCSC and then chair the board. When I finished working for a wage four years ago, this role gave me a renewed sense of direction and purpose. Over the five years as chair I think I left every board meeting with a renewed feeling of energy.

It’s also been a privilege to get to know many people in our city who are working to make Guelph a better place to live. These folks are committed, dedicated and care deeply about helping improve the lives of others. I have a whole new appreciation for people who build community.

I am confident that Heather and the CCSC board, staff and volunteers will continue to work to make sure that our vision is always in focus “A world, without poverty, where communities are flourishing with dignity, equality and food security for all”.

– Peter Gill

4 Comment
  • Comment by Wayne Gatehouse -
    June 30, 2017 @ 1:58 pm

    Hi Peter
    Only thing to say is “great job” –working alongside of you was a privilege. Have a deserved vacation from work at Chalmers.

    • Comment by Diana Sterenberg -
      August 25, 2017 @ 2:18 pm

      Thank you Wayne. I will pass on your message to Peter.

  • Comment by Henk Dykman -
    June 30, 2017 @ 2:48 pm

    Thanks so much for all you have done, Peter, but please, don’t retire from the choir!

    • Comment by Diana Sterenberg -
      August 25, 2017 @ 2:18 pm

      Thank you Henk. I will pass on your message to Peter.

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