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CCD’s Kaitlyn McPhee is always happy to lend a helping hand

CCD’s Kaitlyn McPhee is always happy to lend a helping hand

If you were to ask Community Care Durham’s Kaitlyn McPhee what she would describe as a good day, she would more than likely reply, “Helping people.”

She pursued a bachelor’s degree in social work from Sir Wilfrid Laurier University. Since graduating, her life has been one of service to other people.

“I’m not super drawn to clinical work,” she said. “I wanted to be client-facing and involved in the community.”

Before joining CCD, Kaitlyn was a COVID-19 screener at Hillsdale Nursing Home in Oshawa. It was a critical job during a frightening time. But once the worst of the virus was over, screeners were eliminated.

That’s when Kaitlyn discovered an opportunity with CCD’s Community Food Box program. We needed a program associate; she saw a chance to help more people in her community.

“The food box program really spoke to me in the fact that food insecurity had been and is at an all-time high,” she said.

Since starting in April 2023, Kaitlyn has kept herself busy, not only with the weekly Community Food Box program but helping create last summer’s first Mobile Food Market (MFM). Partnering with Durham College, The Barrett Centre, and the Town of Ajax, CCD brought fresh fruits and vegetables for sale in the Ajax Community Centre parking lot.

Kaitlyn, her colleagues Sara Menard, and Bob Sharkey ran the MFM all summer, right into the fall. The market offered high-quality fruits and vegetables for far less than clients could purchase at the supermarket. They’re planning to be back in Ajax this summer and possibly Whitby.

“It was hard, but it was fun. It’s nice to get out of the office and into the community,” Kaitlyn said.

Another bonus was seeing first-hand the benefits the MFM brought to the community. Each week, repeat customers would wait for the market to open. Customers would engage Kaitlyn and talk to one another about recipes and what they could make with the products sold that week.

“It (the market) fosters a sense of community, even amongst the customers with each other,” she said.

Away from the office, Kaitlyn is a big baseball fan. She’s looking forward to visiting The Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training in February.

“We’re a big baseball family. My brother’s bucket list is to hit every ballpark, so we started last year when he graduated. We did Philly and Pittsburgh one weekend in April, and it was fun.”

The Blue Jays newly renovated training facilities are in Dunedin, Florida. Kaitlyn is excited to see the facilities and the new TD Ballpark. They’re going to see the Blue Jays play the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees throughout a long weekend.

Back at CCD, Kaitlyn said she’s excited about what 2024 will bring for the Community Food Box program. The MFM could be expanding, and so far, their CFB numbers have been good this winter.

“We’ve got a lot of new referrals, which are common for the winter. I’m excited to see where it goes,” she said.

Wherever it goes, you can count on it to help many CCD clients and others in the community. That’s something that makes Kaitlyn very happy.