By Jacey Conway, Federation of Calgary Communities
The name Virginia Tremblay means a lot to the community of Acadia.
Tremblay, an Acadian resident, has been volunteering within her community for many years and has made an impact in many lives.
“I got the volunteer bug years ago and haven’t stopped,” says Tremblay, who has started multiple volunteer initiatives within her community.
Tremblay started volunteering when she was a resident of Acadia Place, a low-income housing unit. As a single mother with four children, Tremblay relied on her community for help through difficult times. The help she was given inspired her to give back and help others who were also in need.
“She is a dynamo,” says Donna Gordan, friend and fellow volunteer.
Tremblay’s first volunteer work was with the Acadia Friendship circle, a place for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Calgarians to come together to learn more about Indigenous culture and traditions. The group has inspired community connections and continues to be a large part of Tremblay’s volunteer work.
“My life never reflected something like this to come but I couldn’t imagine not being part of it anymore,” says Tremblay.
Her most recent volunteer project is a food pantry, which provides food for those who are struggling in the Acadia area and beyond. The group of volunteers, led by Tremblay, currently meet once a month at the McDougall United Church in Acadia to sort through and give out food to the community. Due to the accessible location and high demand, the group is already looking for more food donors, especially fresh produce donors to promote healthy eating. The group hopes to expand the pantry into more than just food by supplying toiletries and baby products.
“This is only our third time doing it but we see how much need there is,” explains Gordan.
The food pantry is funded by the City of Calgary and they have several donors across the city, including some Acadia businesses. The group is volunteer dependent, but they hope with its growing popularity they could soon hold the food pantry twice a month. Tremblay hopes to continue the good work in her community with a possible community kitchen and an Indigenous Youth Hip Hop night.
Tremblay encourages other communities to become involved and start projects such as this to address the many needs across the city.
“I’m just a regular person from Acadia who started volunteering. I was given an opportunity in Acadia and took it.”