This National Volunteer Week, DI Volunteer Victoria writes that DI volunteers work. The next time you meet a hardworking DI volunteer, please thank him or her for making our great city even better.

By Victoria S.

Having worked as a waitress throughout university, I’m no stranger to a kitchen. Typically, they were places of extremes; high levels of humour, but also places of intense stress. They’d work through a meal service for two hundred people and the atmosphere was generally frenetic.

Given this past experience, I expected to walk into the DI’s kitchen and see much of the same.

It was the opposite.

Hairnet and apron on, I set about dicing carrots. Popular music drummed out of the stereo and the kitchen team were laughing and joking. The kitchen porter even did a little dance to Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”.

The kitchen was calm and fun, but what I particularly noticed was the care and attention the staff gave to each other. They made sure everyone took regular breaks and were well hydrated. The chef and sous-chef regularly checked in with me to make sure I was okay.

“How many servings do you prepare for each meal,” I asked.

“Oh, about a thousand,” responded the sous-chef. A thousand! I looked at my 23 kg box of carrots thinking that it probably went to one meal, maximum two.  When you hear the annual operating costs at the DI, they sound large, but at the same time they’re meeting the basic needs of up to 1250 people a day. To run a kitchen, provide shelter, medical assistance and so many other services requires that kind of operating budget. I could tell that every penny is spent efficiently.

While my four hours of chopping carrots, green peppers and onions perhaps doesn’t make a huge difference in the long run, it really put in perspective for me the amount of work that goes into providing these basic needs on a daily basis. I felt privileged to volunteer alongside other volunteers and the kitchen staff at the DI. Hard work pays off by providing thousands of servings of quality, nutritious meals each day to people in need. Good job kitchen team!

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