Celebrating volunteers at King Township Food Bank

·7 min read

During National Volunteer Week, King Township Food Bank is pleased to announce recognition by the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards Program, on March 8. The OVSA recognition was delayed by one year, and the awards were for service to December 2019.

Recognition went to Jim and Ashley Gairdner for their 15 years of service.

From the first Distribution in January 2005, Ashley and Jim have been part of the supply chain, earlier on with delivery from the Depot to the Distribution Centres, latterly adding the responsibility of picking up a large quantity of donated produce to be included in the shipments.

Sean Kay and Bill Salmon were recognized for their dedication to deliveries from the Depot to the Distribution Centres for well over 10 years. Usually unseen and unsung, they are part of the hero team that gets the food to where it needs to be for that Day, the third Saturday of every month.

In the Youth Category, awards were given to Madeleine Nikmanesh and Lauryn Oviedo.

Madeleine has organized and completed several drives over recent years, both at her school and with her youth group. King Township Food Bank learned that if they needed something, all we had to do was “ask Maddy” and a large quantity would appear within 10 days. A formidable organizer from food to the special drives for Kraft Dinner and diapers, Madeleine delivered SUV loads of product through the generosity of her school mates and friends.

Lauryn has been key to the success of the Pop-up Clothing Giveaways that began in 2015. As you would expect, there is much schlepping, sorting, and stacking that is needed, along with organizing items by season and size. Lauryn set to this with a will, giving time and energy and organizing skills to the quarterly events since the program was started.

As there was a limit of two nominations each year in the Youth Category, KTFB had to wait until 2021 to acknowledge Faith Oviedo, who also has shown energy and dedication to ensure the success of the Pop-up Clothing events. Faith and Lauryn make an amazing team.

The public recognition of many Food Bank volunteers at the Township level was severely dislocated as pandemic restrictions dictated timing and events. KTFB nominations for Township recognition in 2020 and Ontario recognition in 2021 includes another list of volunteers with outstanding records of service and dedication.

The long-serving distributors have shown remarkable dedication to the monthly Saturday morning distribution of food, produce and food cards. Kathy Haverlock, a key volunteer at the Nobleton Centre, assumed the role of distributor seamlessly when her predecessor retired in 2009. Similarly, Nancy Fortnum assumed King City from her predecessor, overseeing a transition to the present location when the need for space outgrew that available in the first location.

Pat Johnston started the Kettleby location when it became clear that there was need for another centre to assist a growing registration list. Over the years, their lives, including family and holiday plans, have revolved around being always present to ensure the registrants were cared for, both in emergency situations and on Food Bank Day every month. In addition, they have organized and delivered the Back to School program, having inaugurated the project in 2014 and were the genesis for the Pop-up Clothing Giveaway events, along with registration and distribution for Christmas in King.

There were two special presentations planned. Charlie Wilson, of Bruce Wilson Landscaping, has been a vital part of the annual Sponsorship Program that was started in 2009 when need was outstripping spontaneous donations. Ever cheerful and willing, Charlie led by example, sponsoring at the highest level every year, and encouraging his business associates and friends to support KTFB. Singlehandedly, he was responsible for half the revenue generated by the Sponsorship campaign every year.

Mark Pavilons, Editor of King Weekly Sentinel, has been a Food Bank champion for over 10 years, indeed ever since he assumed that position at the Sentinel. King Township Food Bank made a special presentation to him at a Township Council meeting in 2013, and his efforts have only increased since that time. He tirelessly promotes KTFB, both on the job and off. Many of the valuable Live Auction items at the annual KTFB fundraiser have been due to his efforts, and you only have to read the paper for a short period of time to recognize that he gives priority to promoting King Township Food Bank. His efforts in large part account for the wide recognition the Food Bank now has across King, and that greater awareness has helped bring much higher level of support.

The final nomination that was forwarded to the Township was that of 2020 Citizen of the Year for Meline Beach.

Meline began her volunteering with KTFB many years ago when she and her children collected food from drop off locations in Schomberg to the Depot for sorting and shelving. It was not always pretty, as if there was a leaking container, pesky things were attracted to the bin. But she helped James and Eden persist in this service.

When there was a sudden vacancy as Event Coordinator leading up to the 2017 Sip & Savour fundraiser, Meline stepped forward to fill the gap. Since that time, she has been responsible for the increasing success of this annual event, billed as “The Cocktail Party of the Year” in King. In the four years of her leadership, Sip & Savour has brought in nearly $150,000 in funds, in other words, half the annual fundraising budgetary needs. Meline continues this role, and her 2020 Home Edition inspiration yielded record results. Meline is also a Director, ensuring the proper documentation of the organization in her role as Corporate Secretary. In addition, she operates the Food Bank Facebook page, always alert for material that will help inform those interested in our activities and news.

Gary Vogan has been the heart and lifeblood of the Food Bank warehouse (known as the Depot) for over a decade. As Operations Director, he is responsible for the inventory needed to fill the menu boxes with an appropriate assortment of pantry items including tinned items and boxed goods such as cookies and crackers. He has shopped tirelessly, delivering hundreds of carloads of needed groceries from stores to the Depot where he oversees the packing of boxes and then the shipping out to the Distribution centres according to requests. With the introduction of food cards, the need to shop diminished, only to be replaced with integrating fresh produce into the monthly deliveries, while continuing to pick up many trailer loads of food from school drives.

Over the years, King Fire and Emergency Service assumed several deliveries from schools, especially in Fall, when donation events result in large quantities to be moved. KFES is also responsible for the very successful Food and Boot Drive, resulting in thousands of dollars of cash and cheques, and a mountain of food donations.

Leona Zadoyko’s involvement with the Food Bank began as assistant to Kathy Haverlock in Nobleton as that centre grew to twice its previous size. Her energy, expertise and dedication have been essential to the continuation of the Back to School program, the Pop-up Clothing Giveaways, and the Hamper and Santa Box programs for Christmas in King. Additionally, her board responsibilities are largely as Community and Volunteer Director. Leona’s background includes significant volunteer and career leadership, and KTFB benefits greatly as a result.

Geoff Simpson joined the ranks of the Food Bank as webmaster in 2017. KTFB is fortunate indeed, to have his professional expertise in this totally volunteer organization. He has updated the website more than once, giving it a fresh new look from time to time. With social media so important to the profile of a charitable organization, the website is an essential part of the public face. Geoff became a director, and has proved himself up for anything, including running a soup booth at the Township’s Soup Fest to promote Sip & Savour’s Brazilian themed event in 2018.

This year’s Volunteer Week theme is “The value of one, the power of many.” Indeed, King Township Food Bank is blessed by the value of many “ones,” with another 25 volunteers in supporting roles, resulting in a “power of many” that provides food assistance to nearly 300 registrants ranging from singles to families of 9 and 10. This totally volunteer organization would not exist without them.

Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel