Volunteers are the strength that keeps the Goldstream Food Bank running, said president Gayle Ireland.
“Without them, we wouldn’t exist,” she underlined. “We simply wouldn’t be able to fulfill our mission without their dedication and hard work. Each and every one of them is so valuable.”
It becomes obvious quickly if a volunteer has what it takes to keep up with the fast pace that’s a staple of the food bank, especially on the days it’s open to the public. “They either get hooked right away or we never see them again,” she noted.
The first assessment rings true with Gloria Driscoll and Cec Cancade, who have more than 36 years of volunteer service between them.
Driscoll began volunteering at the Goldstream Food Bank when it moved into the basement of the Royal Canadian Legion in Langford in 1999 because she wanted to keep active during her retirement. “I think it’s a good thing to do,” explained the View Royal resident. “There’s a definite need. We help 70 to 80 people each day two days a week. It gets closer to 200 on a busy week, and we seem to be getting a lot of new people.”
The demand keeps all of the volunteers busy, she noted. “There’s a couple of girls on each aisle, and there’s always work to be done. Right now we have one volunteer who hurt himself and anther’s in hospital, so it keeps you hopping.”
“We have a great crew, we think we’re the best,” Driscoll joked. “Everyone’s very self-sufficient at finding something to do. It’s very rewarding when you see how happy people are to receive groceries. One girl, her first time, burst into tears.”
Langford resident Cec Candcade, a volunteer for 16 years, said he enjoys his volunteer work as well. “I’m retired, so it gives me something to do in the morning and there’s a lot of really nice people down here.”
The biggest change he’s noticed during the past few years is that the people coming into the food bank are younger and older. “That tells me there’s a lot of people struggling out there,” he said. “I’ve talked to seniors on pensions and young people working two minimum wage jobs just to survive.”
Cancade is glad to help out, and appreciates that there are lots of people on the West Shore and lots of businesses as well making donations to keep the food bank running.
“We’d be really hard pressed without them,” he noted.