Clara and Agostinho Marmelo
Soup Kitchen Volunteers
Born in Martinchel.
Based in Toronto.
I have always had the tendency to help others… [T]his way of finding the sight of poverty almost unbearable. Of feeling pain when I see someone who is not doing well – Agostinho Marmelo.
Clara and Agostinho Marmelo are super volunteers. Much of their life in Toronto has been devoted to helping those most in need. After having struggled economically during their first years in Canada, this retired couple remains closely linked to their Portuguese community and Christian identity by way volunteering in multiple charitable programs and organizations in West downtown Toronto.
Clara and Agostinho Marmelo were born in 1935 and 1939, in Martinchel, a rural village in central mainland Portugal. Both of them grew up seeing their (grand)parents doing charitable deeds, including feeding the poor in their communities. The Marmelos first emigrated to Switzerland. Then in November 1966, the couple and their three children immigrated to Canada, and initially settled in a three-bedroom rental apartment with one of Clara’s brothers and his two children. During their first years in Canada, the Marmelos had a hard time finding steady employment and earning a good income. Agostinho worked in construction, as a factory worker, picking worms, and cleaning office buildings. Clara worked as a seamstress and homemaker. After years of hard work, they were able to amass enough savings to buy their own house, travel, and dedicate much of their time to helping others; including many Portuguese immigrants and their children who lived with disabilities, struggled with addictions, or were involved in petty crime.
Clara and Agostinho have volunteered in different charities and organizations for decades, often as part of a church group. In the West Neighbourhood House‘s Meals on Wheels program, they deliver meals to seniors, people with disabilities, and other individuals with mobility difficulties. Alongside other members of their Portuguese prayer group, they have also volunteered in the Out of the Cold and Welcome Table programs, where they have prepared over 1,500 individual meals every year to homeless people during 10 weeks in the Winter. The Marmelos also help out in other ways, including picking up leftover bread from Portuguese bakeries in Little Portugal and taking it to food banks.
Hora dos Portugueses