In a world where how we do our jobs and whom we do them with (among several other things), seems to change daily, Nigel has been a constant on The Mustard Seed Kamloops’ volunteer team.
For more than a decade, Nigel has been giving up his Tuesday mornings to cook meals for the less fortunate.
“I think it’s very important to give back to your community. I really like Kamloops; it’s been great for me and I have the time to volunteer, so I’ve made a habit of it because I know the guests here really appreciate it,” said Nigel.
Moving from Salmon Arm to Kamloops in 2006, Nigel enrolled in the Education and Skills Training Program at Thompson Rivers University. The two-year program is designed to provide the knowledge about future employment opportunities and training in specific areas to students with cognitive disabilities. For Nigel, that meant working in the kitchen.
After completing the program in 2008, his support worker was helping out in the Dayroom at the New Life Mission (which is now referred to as the Outreach Centre). He thought the kitchen shift for Nigel would be a great fit for him coming out of college.
“I wanted to find another volunteer opportunity because my old Tuesday shift at another spot in town was coming to an end,” said Nigel, who’s in his early 30s. “Luckily I found an opportunity at the New Life Mission.”
Nearly as reliable as the sunrise since 2009, the only thing stopping Nigel from cooking and serving hot, tasty meals is the rare illness.
“It’s been great to be able to rely on a guy like that...you always know that Nigel is coming in for his shift,” said Dieter, head chef at The Mustard Seed.
“When he comes in that regularly, you don’t have to tell him the step-by-step plans. I can just tell Nigel to go make a salad and he can handle it. That takes a huge load off me and allows me to focus on other things.”
All that time in the kitchen has given him the dream of preparing a Nigel-themed signature dish in the coming years.
“It’s a twist on the traditional Sheppard’s Pie. I would put Tater tots on top, with a mushroom cream in the meat and use a cheese to help bind it all together. Maybe if we could serve that once every few months, that would be really cool,” said Nigel.
The more things change over the years – the organization, the menu, kitchen design, health measures, other employees and volunteers – The Mustard Seed Kamloops is incredibly thankful and grateful to have Nigel anchoring their volunteer team in the kitchen.