Food for Thought Blog

The Power of Pinball Clemons

September 13th, 2018Events, Stories

There is nothing more exciting than meeting new people, hearing their stories and being inspired.

The 5th Annual Waffles in the Warehouse is officially in the books, and although the warehouse is back to serving our community programs and agencies, the building is still buzzing from an insightful, inspiring and emotional event.

Waffles in the Warehouse is an annual event that raises awareness about food assistance in Waterloo Region, addresses misconceptions around food insecurity and gives attendees the opportunity to visit The Food Bank facilities and learn more about our impact.

Michael “Pinball” Clemons, keynote speaker and former Toronto Argonauts player and coach along with his wife Diane shared their emotional and personal stories, inspiring the crowd of more than 150 attendees to get involved and help those in our community.

“We rise by lifting others up. If you can help (someone), then why not (do that),” asked Clemons. “There’s a poverty greater than having nothing to eat and that is being unloved, unwanted, uncared for, and forgotten. You see, when you live in a community with this level of affluence and there are people who cannot eat, it’s bigger than just nothing to eat.” he added.

You could hear a pin drop as Clemons wife, Diane, shared her powerful and moving story about growing up in Florida, and the challenges her family faced trying to feed a family of 10. In fact, it is Diane’s story that has inspired the talented duo to work so closely with food banks, supporting events like Waffles in the Warehouse.

“We were poor,” shared Diane. “One day my parents went out to find food and put my older sister in charge. They were gone for quite a while and we were starting to cry and whine about being hungry.”

She went on to explain how her sister gave each sibling one piece of toilet paper and some salt to help with the hunger pains.

Sharing stories through what he knows best, sports, Clemons took the opportunity to not only raise awareness about the importance of food banks and working together but to inspire and challenge guests to think about how they will (continue to) make a difference.

“When you help The Food Bank, you are telling those who are most vulnerable – in your community – that you play this game for them,” he said. “We need more people on the bench to help out.”

Every day in our community, people are forced to make unimaginable decisions.

Keep a roof over their head, or buy groceries. Spend their grocery budget on medical care because they have no benefits or job security. Give up a minimum wage job to go back to school to build a brighter future for their family, while accessing food assistance along the way, to make ends meet.

Impossible choices.

Michael’s influence and impact has helped open doors to new community partners, increased awareness around how hunger shapes a community and spurred important conversations around what we can all do to make a difference. The recipe to ensure no one goes hungry in our community is simple: food, funds and time.

How will you make a difference?

If you are interested in learning more about how you can get involved with The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, click here.