While volunteering may feel like a burden to some, a local woman is strongly motivated to be of service to the community in any way she can.
The town’s “2020 Citizen of the Year,” Joy Lockman, has volunteered regularly from a young age and has been able to contribute even more of her time since retiring.
She volunteers with a variety of organizations and her main focus for the past seven years has been the “Loaves and Fishes” soup kitchen at New Beginnings Fellowship.
“When it comes to volunteering, you get more out of it then you ever put in,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m singing with the choir or making sandwiches for the fall tea.
“I would just say that it’s just what the Lord has placed on my heart and I just feel that I’m here to serve,” Lockman added.
She’s sings at Rainycrest, serves on the hospital auxiliary, delivers Psalm FM newsletters to churches in the community, serves on her church’s council, teaches Sunday school, and helps out at the community garden during the summertime.
Lockman is most active at the soup kitchen which runs three days a week and she coordinates all the food and supplies for each meal.
“I started noticing, especially in the last two to three years that I was getting more [food] then I could use here, so I started making connections with other community groups,” Lockman explained.
“Right now I’ve got a box of bread to take to the friendship centre.”
Rainycrest and the hospital started donating their leftovers instead of throwing them away earlier this year which has been a great help for supporting those who are hungry in the community.
Safeway, the Place, local churches, restaurants, and Green’s Funeral Home also provide food, which has created a surplus at the soup kitchen, so Lockman drops off extra food to other places that service people in need.
“But I don’t do this alone, all I do is bring in the food and the bread, the other ladies are cooking the meal and the same with the family centre and places like that, it’s other people that are running it, I’m just the background person, but I guess people kept tripping over me,” Lockman said.
“I’m very grateful because I don’t do this alone, so I’m very grateful for the people that work with me.”
The numbers at the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen’s numbers have lowered over the past couple years but Lockman said it’s no reflection of less people needing food, it’s just that they’re accessing different resources.
“The numbers were very high until recently and I think that’s because we have the Family Centre,” she remarked.
“So when we do have leftovers, I just take them over there, either way I’m going to feed those people.”
The soup kitchen runs Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12-12:20 p.m., while the Family Centre runs 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week and is more central to downtown.
“We use to have, like, 40 people . . . then it was 30, now we cook for 25. But it’s hard on those ladies because anywhere from seven to 21 people show up,” she noted.
“If there’s anything left over, it never goes to waste. Plus they’re always allowed takeouts.”
A lot of extra food that the soup kitchen is directed to the Family Centre and they have a strong, synergistic relationship.
“I’ve got to go there today, to the Family Centre. Soup is ready at the hospital for pickup and we’re talking like 13 gallons of soup,” Lockman explained.
“The thing is there isn’t enough in a gallon pail of soup for my group, but over there [at the Family Centre], they’ve got two or three crockpots.
“It’s perfect, because it’s like, ‘Okay, Lord, you’ve given me all this soup. What am I suppose to do with it?’ And then right away up comes the Family Centre who decided to start serving a hot meal at the CN,” she added.
Meanwhile, singing at Rainycrest on Thursday with the Christian Singers from the New Beginnings Fellowship is one of Lockman’s favourite ways of giving back to the community.
“If you told me that I’d ever be comfortable in a senior citizen home, I never would have believed it,” Lockman noted.
“It doesn’t matter when I go there, I always come out with more than I give, and they’ve got so little, but they’re just so appreciative.”
Lockman told the Times it’s difficult when she can’t visit Rainycrest on a Thursday because they’re closed for admissions due to respiratory and gastroenteritis outbreaks.
“I miss it because they close sometimes for extended periods and I wonder about the residents,” she remarked. “It gives me reason to pray, for sure.”
Some of Lockman’s largest motivators to volunteer stem from her faith and drive to make Fort Frances an even better community.
She would encourage anyone in the district who is physically able to get involved in volunteering for something they support.
“Volunteers make the community better, all the way along, just look to see what you can do,” Lockman explained.
“Maybe you can just step outside and pickup some garbage on the boulevard, you know–anything that you can do that helps.”
Although, she told the Times, Fort Frances is an incredibly generous community and always bands together when it counts.
“I really see that in Fort Frances a lot. It can be such a giving community, because you see a need and people just respond,” Lockman lauded.
“I think that’s the essence of our community, that’s the heart showing up in people.”
Although, Lockman said the community is missing two essential services–assisted living and a homeless shelter.
“I mean Kenora has got a homeless shelter, Dryden’s got a homeless shelter, why doesn’t Fort Frances have a homeless shelter?” she asked.
Going forward, Lockman said she will continue volunteering for as long as she is in good health and not overdoing it with her commitments.
She is very grateful to Jennifer Wood who nominated her for the “2020 Citizen of the Year” award.