Derlanda Hewton is the general manager of the Nicola Valley Food Bank, a not for profit which serves the community with food, necessities and kindness through every season of every year.
Hewton is being recognized this year for her unwavering dedication to the Nicola Valley and those who need the food bank’s assistance.
“I’m just overwhelmed by it,” said Hewton about her nomination.
“It’s extremely thrilling, I was very surprised. I’ve never been on the receiving end like this, so I’m very honoured. And I don’t know why I was chosen; I’m just doing my job.”
Hewton views herself as a “small portion” of the team that makes the food bank run so effectively, and that although her role is as a leader of that team, it wouldn’t be possible if there weren’t many more dedicated people working alongside her.
“I think I have a vision of where the food bank is and where I want it to be, and I help our staff and our board of directors to envision it as well,” said Hewton.
“But without the people behind me, we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing today.”
Merritt’s little food bank gained province-wide attention last year as local athlete Darius Sam pledged to run 100 miles to raise money for the organization. Hewton helped promote the run, and was there as a support system for Sam.
“I was with him start to finish with the run,” explained Hewton.
“I went home around midnight to have a couple hours of sleep but then I was right back with him.”
Hewton did the same thing when Sam did his run over again, although the food bank was not the designated charity to benefit from his second attempt.
“I think that anybody that’s going to help us feed people or help people that are facing challenges of homelessness or anything, we need to support them in any way that we can,” said Hewton.
Hewton once faced challenges of her own, experiencing health problems in 2012. She was told that she would have to give up her job, and explained that she nearly became a food bank client herself.
“Personally, I’ve had some challenges and I’ve overcome them,” said Hewton.
“When life takes a direction that you’re not prepared for and you can overcome that, and actually I’m the better for it because it’s given me a purpose. I would never have thought that I was going to be the GM of the Food Bank, I never thought with my past experiences that this was the direction I would have taken. But I believe that I’m here for a purpose, and that is becoming clear to me. It’s something that I’m meant to do in my life.”
Hewton urges compassion for everyone, particularly as we navigate an unprecedented global pandemic which she says has brought many more people, including families, to the food bank’s doors.
When asked if she had any advice for other women, struggling or not, Hewton had this to say: “Just be true to yourself and listen to what your inner voice is telling you to do. We’re stronger than we think. Do what you feel is right and be true to what your beliefs are.”
Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald