Martha’s Table Volunteering Policy
The activities of our volunteers are crucial to our work and Martha’s Table seeks volunteer involvement wherever appropriate. This volunteering policy aims to reflect the high esteem in which Martha’s Table holds volunteers. Volunteers are an established, valued and integral part of Martha’s Table. They enhance our work by bringing valuable skills, experiences and energy as well as their gift of time. They demonstrate loyalty and commitment to our mission to “provide a caring place where people in need can have a nutritious meal and find the social support of a community of friends and volunteers.”
For Martha’s Table, volunteering is not just a means of getting things done. Volunteers learn about “community” from first-hand experience. Through this, they are likely to adopt personal life style choices that benefit the community and help address issues surrounding poverty, mental health, food security and other challenges that many face. Individuals who volunteer with us benefit personally in many ways including the acquisition of new skills, experiences, friendships and social contacts.
Martha’s Table recognizes that volunteering must benefit the individual as well as the organization and aims to provide an environment that is inclusive, stimulating, friendly and supportive.
This policy sets out both broad and specific principles for volunteering at Martha’s Table. It clarifies what Martha’s sets out to do for its volunteers and what the organization expects in return. It is relevant to everyone. At the heart of the policy is the ‘Volunteer Commitment’, which is a statement of hopes and expectations, owed both ways.
Through this policy we hope that volunteers spending time at Martha’s Table will feel that they are treated respectfully and professionally and that their needs are fully considered.
About Martha’s Table:
Mission Statement: “Our mission is to provide a caring place where people in need can have a nutritious meal and find the social support of a community of friends and volunteers.”
Martha’s Table is a restaurant that provides food at a minimal cost in a dignified way, in attractive surroundings, for those who otherwise could not afford a nutritious meal. In addition to the restaurant, there is a drop-in centre, or Friendship Room, providing a light lunch, companionship, and shelter.
Statement of Purpose: Martha’s Table is a community center within the social welfare network of the City of Kingston. Martha’s Table provides a unique home where respect, compassion, caring and social interaction can occur in an atmosphere of mutual support, with nutritious meals and snacks in comfortable dining and lounge facilities.
Martha's Table provides opportunities for volunteers to give back, gain skills and make a meaningful contribution to the community.
History: On January 31, 1997, Martha’s Table began its work at St. Mary’s School on Brock Street. It remained there until January 2003, when the dining room moved to Chalmers United Church. When we were located on Brock Street, it included a drop-in centre, The Friendship Room. There was not enough space to accommodate the Friendship Room at Chalmers, so it was then situated at St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Queen Street. On October 27, 2006, we purchased our present home at 629 Princess Street and moved in on January 15, 2007. The loan to purchase the property has since been paid in full, and we work hard to maintain the facility moving forward.
Executive Director and Administrator will answer any questions you may have about volunteering at Martha’s Table. The volunteer coordinator/cook guides kitchen activities throughout the day. Anyone stopping by to donate food, equipment or funds must be directed to the office.
Our Commitment to volunteering:
Martha’s Table strives to develop and maintain the dynamic and mutually beneficial relationships between volunteers and the Martha’s Table organization. The Executive Director has functional responsibility for Martha’s Table and the volunteering program, including the development and monitoring of policy, standards and best practice. The Executive Director reports to the Martha’s Table Board of Directors. It is the role of Martha’s Table staff to ensure the contribution made by our volunteers is optimized.
Equal Opportunities and Diversity:
Martha’s Table believes in equal opportunities and diversity for both staff and volunteers. We believe that no one should be treated less favourably than anyone else because of their gender, marital status, age, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, political opinion, disability, sexual orientation or past criminal convictions,unless it can be shown to be justified. Martha’s Table strives to be more representative of our wider society and welcomes new ideas and fresh approaches generated by people from different backgrounds, cultures, genders, ages and outlooks.
Anyone with a criminal conviction/pending charges related to violence, arson, assault, sexual assault or conditions that prevent someone from being in the presence of a minor must disclose to the Executive Director as required on the Martha’s Table application form. The Executive Director reserves the right to ask for a CPIC for information purposes. Your volunteer application may require further review by the Executive Director.
Who is a volunteer?
A volunteer is someone who at the request of or on behalf of Martha’s Table donates their time and talent without expectation of financial compensation beyond reimbursement of expenses.
In line with relevant legislation, Martha’s Table distinguishes volunteering from employment, and puts its flexibility and informality to best effect to complement the work of paid staff.
The volunteer relationship is binding in honour, trust and mutual understanding. No enforceable obligation, contractual or otherwise can be imposed on volunteers to attend. Likewise, Martha’s Table does not provide payment or other benefit for volunteer activities undertaken.
We respect and honour our volunteers by building trust and understanding. Such a partnership is not intended to be a legally binding contract, but instead to express a voluntary two-way commitment where everyone gains satisfaction from being part of the Martha’s Table organization.
Scope of volunteering:
Volunteers work in the kitchen, in the drop in centre and in the dining room during afternoon meal service. Volunteers also work off site, picking up food and at various fundraising events.
Volunteers also provide professional advice and guidance within the charity. Our Board of Directors is made up of volunteers who provide planning and strategic advice and who are ultimately responsible for ensuring the organization is meeting its charitable objectives.
Martha’s Table acknowledges it has responsibilities to its volunteers and similarly has expectations of its volunteers. This is clearly set out in the ‘Martha’s Table Volunteer Commitment’ section below:
The Martha’s Table volunteer commitment:
Martha’s Table will endeavour at all times to:
- Match the needs of Martha’s Table with the skills, knowledge, experience, time and motivation of the volunteer
- Recognize successful volunteer involvement incorporates the individual’s motivations, aspirations and choices
- Ensure paid staff are trained to work with volunteers
- Ensure volunteers feel properly valued and thanked
- Respect volunteers, listen and learn from what they have to say, consistently encouraging two-way communication
- Ensure volunteers have a good understanding of what Martha’s Table does and be provided with timely and accurate information on policies and procedures
- Foster a friendly and supportive atmosphere – aiming to make volunteering rewarding and pleasurable
- Ensure volunteers know who to talk to if there are problems or difficulties and have complaints and grievances resolved fairly
- Ensure every volunteer has access to a supervisor to guide and advise them
- Ensure the health, safety and welfare of all Martha’s Table volunteers while undertaking their volunteering activities
- Provide appropriate training
- Evaluate all volunteer activities with a view to build and develop our programs
In return, we ask volunteers to:
- Maintain and uphold the good name and reputation of Martha’s Table
- Co-operate with paid members of staff, to listen and learn from what they have to say to achieve the aims of the organization
- Aim for high standards of efficiency, reliability, professionalism and quality in all aspects of their contribution
- Encourage two-way communication with other volunteers and paid staff, fostering a pleasant and friendly atmosphere
- Adhere to the Martha’s Table policies and procedures while volunteering
- Accept that ultimate responsibility for the affairs of the charity rests with the Executive Director and Board of Directors
- Work within the law
- Respect the need for confidentiality whenever they have access to confidential information
- Take reasonable care of their own health and safety while volunteering and that of others who may be affected by their actions
- Extend to their fellow volunteers and staff the same degree of courtesy that they would expect to receive
- Be reliable and tell us if they are not available or running late
- Carry out the agreed project/role
- Ask for support if they need it
- Take part in training relevant to their role as a volunteer
- Come to volunteer shifts appropriately dressed for the tasks to be completed (t-shirts or sweatshirts should not have any offensive language or graphics. You should be well covered, no short shorts, skirts, low cut shirts or spaghetti straps)
- Not indulge in gossip and rumor spreading. Volunteers are expected to set a positive example while at Martha’s Table
Code of Conduct:
1) Every individual has the right to be treated fairly and with dignity and the corresponding responsibility to respect others and to treat them with dignity.
2) Every individual has the right to a safe and nurturing environment and the corresponding responsibility to respect and maintain this environment.
3) Every individual has the right to use and enjoy the facilities and services at Martha’s Table and the corresponding responsibility to show respect for these facilities.
Guests are served with dignity and respect. Staff and volunteers are encouraged to get to know and understand guests and the challenges they may bring with them. If someone appears anxious or agitated, please speak the Director, Administrator or Volunteer Coordinator/Cook. They are responsible for ensuring an atmosphere of calm and well being. Volunteers are prohibited from intervening in situations of physical or verbal aggression. All incidents are to be reported to staff immediately.
Your relationship with guests: Martha’s Table volunteers are in direct contact with vulnerable persons. If a volunteer would like to pursue a committed/intimate relationship with a guest outside of their volunteer role at Martha’s Table, they need to advise a supervisor and know they may be asked to step down from their volunteer position. The “duty of care” that individuals and organizations have towards vulnerable persons is established by law in Ontario and Canada. Martha’s Table does not impose this responsibility; it already exists. For more information, please see the office.
Recruitment and selection:
Martha’s Table encourages involvement by volunteers from all sections of the community and will not discriminate against any volunteers in the selection procedure.
We welcome volunteers 14 years of age or older. Volunteers under 18 must have the consent of a parent or legal guardian. Volunteers that are 14 and 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian during their entire shift.
All volunteer roles are meaningful and worthwhile. Each role is listed in the next section. More detailed role descriptions are located in the Martha’s Table Policies handbook.
Training and development:
New volunteers will be made to feel welcome and will be provided with relevant information and training as appropriate to their role. Volunteers may wish to develop their skills while helping at Martha’s Table and where appropriate will be encouraged to take on new roles and/or become further involved. Training courses may be available to volunteers as appropriate.
Meal prep: 9:30 am - 3:00 pm, shift sign up not required, volunteers may drop in
Dining room prep: 9:30 am - 3:00 pm, shift sign up not required, volunteers may drop in
Dinner Service: 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, shift sign up is required
3 servers, 3 bus persons, 2 juicers and 1 coffee and tea station volunteer, 1 trained volunteer on tickets, 2 volunteers food plating, 1 soup/salad server, 1 dish scraper, 1 dish washer, 1 dish stacker, 1 volunteer on the pot sink
Clean up: 5:15 pm to roughly 6:15 pm, most volunteers help with cleaning tasks after their jobs are finished for the day, however if you would like to drop in and help with end of day clean up, you do not need to sign up for the shift.
If you are interested in volunteering a scheduled shift in the drop in centre, please contact the office directly.
Communication and feedback
Martha’s Table will ensure all volunteers have the opportunity to give and receive information relevant to their role. The methods of communication and feedback will be appropriate in style, frequency, tone and source to individuals and groups of volunteers.
Through good communications we will encourage volunteers to stay with us, recognize their efforts and maximize their contribution. We welcome feedback on how things could be done better and how to improve our systems.
Public statements and public appearance:
The Chairperson of the Board of Directors and the Executive Director are the official representatives for the organization. Volunteers will only act as representatives of the organization when asked by their mentors. Only with the written approval of the Executive Director, no one, other than those mentioned above will:
- Speak to the press as an official spokesperson
- Represent the organization as a guest speaker
- Send out memos or letters written on the organization’s letterhead
When things aren’t right:
Martha’s Table has complaints procedures, and although we always aim to undertake activities in an accessible and professional manner we recognize that there might be times when volunteers may feel this has not been the case. These procedures give volunteers the opportunity to express their concerns and provide the organization with feedback to improve our performance where necessary.
Complaint about Martha’s Table staff
If a volunteer has a complaint about a staff member that they feel cannot be resolved informally then the volunteer should contact the Executive Director.
Complaint about another Martha’s Table volunteer
If a volunteer has a complaint about another volunteer that they feel cannot be resolved informally then they should discuss this with the Executive Director, Administrator or Volunteer Coordinator/Cook.
Volunteers who do not adhere to the boundaries and procedures of Martha’s Table or who fail to perform their voluntary role satisfactorily (as described in Volunteer Role Descriptions) may be subject to disciplinary procedures.
Volunteers can expect as part of this process:
- Supportive and constructive feedback
- Clear details of the inappropriate behaviour
- Suggestions regarding what and how to improve; and an agreed period of time to demonstrate improvement after each stage (unless their behaviour is such that their volunteering with Martha’s Table should cease as described below)
- To be treated with dignity and respect
A volunteer placement may be ended without warning if Martha’s Table believes that there is sufficient cause, i.e. where behaviour is too inappropriate or harmful. Examples of this include:
- A breach of confidentiality
- Acts that bring Martha’s Table into disrepute
- Acts that contravene Martha’s Table Policies or Procedures
- Any verbal or physical act that contravenes Martha’s Table equal opportunities policy
- Physical and/or verbal abuse of staff members, other volunteers, members of the public
- Theft from Martha’s Table, Martha’s Table staff or volunteers
Where it is necessary to end a volunteer’s involvement, Martha’s Table will treat the volunteer fairly, and with dignity and respect.
Martha’s Table recognizes that volunteers may cease their involvement at any time. It is recommended that when a volunteer chooses to end their relationship with the organization that their reasons for doing so are sought, any learning points are shared and it is established whether they might wish to be involved again in the future.
Health and safety:
Martha’s Table is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all volunteers, staff and visitors and to giving appropriate instruction, training and supervision for their welfare. Our written Health & Safety Policy applies to our volunteers as well as our paid staff. All volunteers are expected to conduct themselves in a safe and responsible manner in line with the Martha’s Table Policies. Volunteers should not act in a way that may put themselves or others at risk of injury. Martha's Table is a scent free environment. Please refrain from wearing strong perfumes/cologne during your shift.
Additional security reminders:
- Volunteers are urged to leave valuables at home. Lockers are available on a first come first serve basis. You must bring your own lock and remove it at the end of your shift
- A mandatory background check MAY be requested
- The facility is off limits unless you are volunteering or need to speak to staff about a volunteer related matter
- Martha’s Table has a zero tolerance policy for alcohol and illegal substance use.
- All injuries must be reported immediately, major or minor
- Volunteers must report all incidents concerning these security measures to staff immediately
Martha’s Table gathers a variety of information on volunteers in order to manage, support and recognize volunteers’ contribution to Martha’s. This personal information is stored and maintained, with appropriate safeguards for confidentiality, on our Volunteer Management System. Martha’s Table abides by all provisions of the Privacy Act and recognizes that volunteers’ privacy is important to them. Volunteers who collect or administer any personal data on individuals will also be required to comply with the provisions of the Act.
Employees, volunteers and students are to maintain strict confidentiality regarding all information pertinent to individuals served by the Organization, as well as business, personnel and personal matters. Exceptions to this occur when a client has signed a written release authorizing us to disclose information or in cases where maintaining confidentiality might cause serious harm to the client or to a third party.
- Information will only be disclosed when required by federal and/or provincial statutes, or with written permission from the individual, or other person vested with authority.
- All staff, volunteers and students must read, accept and acknowledge the Martha’s Table confidentiality policy.
- Unless it is part of their responsibilities and/or duties, employees, volunteers and students will not discuss information concerning the following: Individuals or families supported by the Organization
- Human Resources issues
- The Organization’s financial business
Employees, volunteers or students who have the authority to discuss such information as identified above will not do so:
- In public areas of the organization such as washrooms or waiting rooms
- At home
- In public places outside the Organization
- Employees, volunteers and students are not permitted to leave confidential information in written form or on computer monitors where unauthorized persons may see the information.
Supervision, support and recognition:
It is the intention of Martha’s Table to support its volunteers to enable them to carry out their role to the best of their ability. Volunteers, like staff, are entitled to supervision and support. Volunteers are accountable to a named person from whom they can expect support and supervision.
Martha’s Table acknowledges that volunteers are performing a valuable role within the organization and are relied upon by staff to fulfill their agreed duties at stated times. Volunteers need to understand that if they are unable to turn up or expect to be late it is important that they inform staff as soon as possible. We also appreciate advance notice in respect of holidays and time off.
Martha’s Table has a variety of ways to thank and recognize the contribution of its volunteers. We will continually look to develop new ways in which we can recognize and thank volunteers for their invaluable contribution to our work.
From the Executive Director:
Thank you for your time and consideration. I would be pleased to have you join our team at Martha’s Table. I promise that you will meet interesting people, make friends, learn and share skills, all while making our community a better place to live. I hope to see you soon!
Ronda Candy, Executive Director
Martha’s Table Community Program