Co-op helps out at Moisson Montréal
The tables were turned on Concordia’s co-op staff when they recently volunteered at Moisson Montréal, Canada’s largest food collection and redistribution centre. What started as a desire to help a student doing a co-op work term turned into a genuine learning experience for the staff with a lot of that learning coming straight from the student.
Although the Institute for Co-operative Education regularly helps students get experience in the not-for-profit sector by providing organizations with access to special funding, it was the first time staff members had volunteered.
Human Resource Management (HRM) co-op student Amélie Quirion enrolled in the co-op program to obtain work experience in her chosen field and find out for certain whether the major she had selected for her studies was the right one for her.
“When I saw Moisson Montréal's job posting, I was very impressed by the variety of tasks that I was going to be performing,” she says. “The best thing about working there is the amazing and unforgettable people – employees and volunteers – who love to help others and take care of one another,” she says. “This is a big family where everyone is welcomed, treated equally, and respected for who they are.”
An important part of her job is welcoming new volunteers and providing information sessions for them at the organization’s large facility in St. Laurent. “I was so surprised and at the same time so happy that co-op staff came to volunteer,” she recalls. “I was a little bit stressed at first, but as soon as I started the presentation, I felt comfortable and it turned out to be great!”
Quirion explained the organization’s mission and astonished the co-op team with some of the hard facts about hunger in Montreal before leading everyone to another part of the warehouse to be outfitted.
The organization makes safety a priority for all employees and volunteers. So everyone put on toe guards, waterproof aprons and protective gloves before proceeding to their final destination.
With toe guards clacking like castanets, the team trekked along the safety paths, denoted by painted lines on the floor, of two warehouses. The co-op volunteers then began to scrub, rinse, dry and stack what seemed like hundreds of sturdy plastic boxes used to distribute fresh fruit and vegetables for the Good Food Box (GFB) program. Nearly 6,000 people buy the affordably priced fresh produce each month from more than 160 locations.
With scrubbers, hose and drying rags in hand, the co-op team powered through every box within two hours but with a fair bit of moisture, mess and merriment. Once washed, each box was shoved onto a conveyor system to be organized by size and placed on pallets in another area. Seeing all the boxes cleaned, stacked and ready to be filled gave the co-op staff a sense of pride as they left Moisson Montréal.
When Quirion leaves her co-op work term at the end of December she will take a sense of accomplishment with her. “The experience is absolutely amazing and has allowed me to know that HRM is the right field for me,” she says. “I’ve discovered myself, strengthened my interpersonal and public speaking skills, and gained a lot of maturity.”