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Meeting basic needs

Arlene Oosterhoff
Business Analyst/Technical Writer
Red Deer

Arlene Oosterhoff grew up in a culture of giving and volunteering. It’s the way her parents raised her, and she continues to build on that foundation.

Twenty years ago, Arlene had the opportunity to be part of a life changing initiative in Red Deer – People’s Place. When Arlene’s church moved into a bigger building, they decided to convert their old church into a place that would help shelter the homeless. After much research, planning and hard work, People’s Place opened on Thanksgiving in 1991.

Eventually that mission was expanded to include Loaves & Fishes, which provides meals for People’s Place, individuals and families in need of meals for a variety of reasons and, recently, a school lunch program.

“Over the years I’ve met many wonderful people through People’s Place and Loaves & Fishes, and I’ve heard their stories,” says Arlene. “I’ve learned that anyone could need this kind of help. One decision or experience can take us down a difficult path.”

Although she’s no longer part of the day to day operations, Arlene still collects toiletries, coordinates food drives, recruits volunteers to bake or serve meals and participates in an annual Christmas banquet, which feeds hundreds of people. She’s also involved in a number of other initiatives in the community, such as the Ronald McDonald House and Big Brother/Big Sisters.

Arlene encourages everyone to spend some time volunteering. “It doesn’t have to be 20 per cent of the people doing 80 per cent of the work if we would all help a little. That’s what I love about Servus – every employee is encouraged to plug into their community and get involved. It’s an organization that really lives its values.”

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