At our Annual General Meeting, we had the privilage of honouring staff for their service to Women’s Crisis Services. We are fortunate to have very dedicated staff, who give of themselves every day. One of the staff who was honoured is Donna Klasson, the Food & Nutrition Coordinator at Haven House, our Cambridge Shelter. Donna’s warm personality comes across immediately upon meeting her. She is personable and social, and is an asset to the team. Lisa Leiher, Program Manager at Haven House, honoured Donna with the following words:

“Donna started with the agency in March of 2008 coming to HAVEN from a background in catering and work, among other things, as a pastry chef.

I thought, I would share some numbers. When you are working in the kitchen, 5 years is a lot of meals. Donna ensures 30 Women and Children eat 3 well balanced meals every day. In her 5 years at Haven House, –that’s well over 5000 meals total, 1300 of which, Donna would have prepared and cooked herself.

Lisa Lieher, Program Manager at Haven House, speaks about Donna Klasson at our Annual General Meeting

Since I have only been working with Donna for a few months, I sought the input of the HH team. Here are some of our observations and thoughts on Donna and her work:

~Donna is a dedicated employee and a great cook! Donna is at home in the kitchen. She does not have the fancy commercial kitchen like the one at Anselma House but she makes the one she has work for her and the women and children she serves.

~She is very organized and works hard to make our food budget stretch-Often changing up the menu to accommodate new donations of perishable food items.

The Cambridge Self Help Food bank told me that Donna has a perfect record in terms of getting them their hunger count stats and she manages to get them in early. My impression from the group at the Food Bank that day was that Donna was alone in this category.

Eating well is important to Donna and she does her best to educate and motivate our residents to make healthy choices. On Women’s Wednesday’s Donna has shared her knowledge and passion for food and nutrition by organizing programming. Some recent examples include Herb Planting & Strawberry Rhubarb jam making.

 Donna also participates with enthusiasm with our Toyota gardening project as well with our Hospitality donors.

Donna also creates wonderful breakfast Friday mornings with a really nice homey feel to it and this past week when she was away on vacation, the women missed her. When Friday came one resident decided to take on the challenge, and cooked breakfast for the house, had the music playing and re-created the same atmosphere in her absence. I think that says a lot about Donna’s impact on the residents of Haven.

 They say that a kitchen is the “heart of the home”. At Haven House, this is no different; women spend a lot of time in Donna’s kitchen and this means a lot of interaction between Donna and the residents.

Even though Donna is not a support worker, she is supportive to the women and the woman have taken note of this

Donna takes special care in creating food boxes for women when they leave often adding special treats from our donation room.

Recently I found out that Donna also takes care to find out about women’s pets and if they have a pet they have left in a friends care, she will keep her eye out at the food bank for pet food and special shampoo/collars/toys, etc. and set this aside for a woman at discharge.

Please join me in congratulating and thanking Donna on 5 years of service!”