Why I Volunteer


Last night at a special ceremony, David Von Zuben, one of The Stop’s incredible volunteers, was presented with a Legacy Award from Volunteer Toronto, acknowledging his contributions to making Toronto a healthier and more connected city. David shared these reflections with us about why he volunteers with The Stop:

“I would like to be able to say that it is completely selfless, my volunteering. Truth be told, I do it as much to heal myself as to serve others.

I survived a difficult start in life, as well as some extremely challenging events in my youth. I don’t say this as an excuse for poor behaviours or to garner sympathy. I have faced challenges, continue on a daily basis to face them, and so I feel qualified to reach out with an understanding heart to others who may be struggling with challenges in their life. …

Thankfully, I found The Stop. This wonderful place has saved my life. It welcomed me safely, when I was afraid; they fed me when I was hungry, and embraced me when I felt alone.

I’ve found so much here and I strive each day to help others find the same wonderful gifts that this place has to offer.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all the staff and community members who, over my journey, have helped get me to a place where I can actually help another. On days when I feel like I can’t leave my room from anxiety, volunteering gives me a purpose and a place to be, instead of in my own mind. I know when I come here the food will be delicious and nutritious, and I will be welcomed as a valuable human being without judgment or scorn.

I try to embody that same sense of healing to others as a fellow participant, as a volunteer, and as a person. The Stop has given me this bold sense that I might actually be able to offer something to others. That what I do might in some way make a positive difference in someone’s day. I don’t feel I’m special or that I have any unique gift. We all do, and this place — this special place called The Stop — is where I found that gift, where each opportunity to help others is nurtured. This is why I volunteer here. It gives the people a place to be special, to connect to be a part of something that is making the world — however big or small — better. I’m better because of The Stop and the opportunity to serve and connect.

That’s why I volunteer. I do it as much for myself as I do it to help others. Thank you for letting me be of service.”

If you would like to become a volunteer, please contact Sonia at sonia@thestop.org.

Read more about our unique volunteer program, and about a grant we recently received from Toronto Foundation to redevelop our volunteer training program.

Pictured above: David receiving his award at the ceremony on April 18th, and celebrating with family and friends, including fellow volunteers from The Stop.