Well friends, our look back on the history of the Chestermere Regional Food Bank has now taken us to 2015. Board elections were held and Mardi remained President, Vicki became Vice President, Kathleen Hill became Secretary, Gillian Parmar as Treasurer, Val Yanke as Special Events, Caroline Helder took on Grants and Cindy remained Schools Director.
March 28th 2015 was set s the goal date to move into their new location in Rainbow Falls – a much needed blessing for the organization. The new space was pretty much complete except for the counter and sink, office and meeting rooms untouched. But it was the Lions Club to the rescue as they paid for flooring and Robert and Morris installed the counters.
“Two lovely local Rotarians installed the floors and baseboards, our new VP and family hauling flooring upstairs; Expedia Cruise Ship Centres donating their favorite plumber (and now ours), David to hook up the plumbing and finish the tile work, Enbridge (through Green Standards) and a local Rotarian donating all furniture, volunteers to help with remaining electrical and HVAC work. Walls donated and erected by Rotarians, computers and tech support given, furniture moved from the warehouse into office space and we made it!” explained Mardi Oel.
They held their Grand Opening celebration on May 9th 2015 with a Food Drive at No Frills, tours of our the facility were given and a reception for all volunteers and those that made this possible. The generous folks of Mighty Neighborly catered the event that evening.
A summer student grant was approved, so the group applied for a Community Initiatives Grant and they joined Alberta Food Banks – different from Food Banks Alberta. The group also held their first flea market where they raised $2,300.
The Chestermere Chamber of Commerce held their second golf tournament and the Chestermere Regional Food Bank was once again the lucky recipient of all the funds raised at the event.
“Dockside again put on boat rides at Waterfest for us; Brown’s Social House and Edo of Japan opened both giving generously to the Food Bank almost immediately; the local Ladies Golf Association raised $550 on our behalf; the winners of Rotary’s Amazing Race donated $500 and Lakeshore Spa and Esthetics began providing monthly donations”, says Oel.
The Nickle Family Foundation donated $3,000, which allowed the Chestermere Regional Food Bank to improve their Snack Attack program as well as their Emergency Hampers.
Of course, we all remember the flood that hit our community, which found the food bank helping those that needed during that time.
“We lost Takisha, who was not only a great asset to our Food Bank, but a genuinely kind and wonderful woman as evidenced by the amazing amount of donations we received in her memory”, says Oel.
New bins were donated by BWI, which made it much easier to lift and get into their vehicles and deliver to businesses and schools holding food drives.
Requests to Adopt a Family began coming in; a program they would like to seriously pursue.
Their CIP Grant was approved for staffing in the amount of $50,000 for two people over two years and they held a Casino in December.
Oel reflected saying, “With construction and finishing our new facility, our Grand Opening, our Flea Market, Grant Applications, our Casino and daily operations, volunteer hours were estimated at well over 5,000”.
2015 saw Chestermeres population at 18,496 and the Chestermere Regional Food Bank delivered 237 hampers and 38 Christmas hampers. And $22,625 in gift cards was given out.
Well, there ya have it. With the growth, set backs, and great leaps the Chestermere Regional Food Bank have experience over their ten years, it speaks to the dedication of their leaders, their volunteers and all those who donate and support such a vital organization.
So, what have they been up to so far in 2016?
After 10 years in operation made possible solely by volunteers, the group is very proud to say that they have never received tax dollars from the City of Chestermere and that 100% of the personal donations go toward food and personal hygiene purchases.
“The generous support of residents and businesses, our volunteers, grants and our Casino have made this possible and we can’t thank you enough, Chestermere!”, adds Oel.
The CIP Grant has made it possible for a huge change in the operations of the organization as they now have regular office hours of 11am – 1pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 5pm – 7pm on Wednesdays and, of course, other arrangements can always be made if these times are inconvenient.
Mardi stepped down as President to accept the position of Executive Director and Sandra Elliot was hired as Administrative Assistant. Vicki became President, Carolin Vice President, Gillian, Kathleen, Cindy and Val remained on the Board and they welcomed Malkeet Aheer, Liz Morrison and Lee McLaughlin onto the Board.
Thanks to donations accepted by a local Commissioner for Oaths, a weigh scale was purchased – more work for the fantastic hamper/sorting volunteers, but pretty much the only way they can measure food donations. In three short months, 14,780 pounds of food have been donated; close to 15,000 lbs. their volunteers have picked up, delivered, weighed, sorted and stocked on the shelves!
The food bank recently started weighing outgoing hampers and estimate they can provide approximately 35 lbs. of food per person to last them 2 months.
The generous Knights of Columbus chose the Food Bank as their Charity for their annual Surf & Turf and the Catholic Women’s League continues to support.
“We can’t thank them enough. We received a large donation with Mary Brown’s re-opening; so thoughtful after what they went through; Edo of Japan continues to support and with the help of our local Rotary Club, our first cooler was purchased. We can now accept perishables! Thanks to Wade at Garden Scents, we will have three garden plots this year so our new cooler will be well stocked’ adds Oel.
In the first quarter of this year, they saw many people suddenly out of work and then the devastation of Ft. McMurray resulted in many families needing a little help. The Chestermere Regional Food Bank is currently waiting for direction from Alberta Food Banks to assist where most needed and the logistics of transportation, storage and distribution.
Since January, the food bank has assisted more families than in all of 2012 – a startling statistic that shows the importance of donating to our local food bank.
The food bank has a busy year ahead as they will be participating in Seniors Week; June 6 – 12 and assisting any way they can for the third Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament on June 23; Canada Day celebrations; the Melcor stampede barbecue and Waterfest in July; Rotary’s Amazing Race on September 17; and into the Christmas season.
“Thanks to everyone supporting us in these events and to our volunteers for helping
out – a very busy season ahead”, says Oel.
This Saturday May 28th, the Chestermere Regional Food Bank wants to thank the Community for their generosity over the past 10 years with a celebration at Eric’s No Frills from 10am – 3pm followed by a meet and greet at the Chestermere Landing from 5pm – 8pm.
“Our thanks to Eric Sinclair of No Frills and John Kittler from Dockside for always going above and beyond in their support! All of you have deposited into our Bank; we’re here if you need to make a withdrawal”, adds Oel.
118 hampers given out in the first four months of 2016 feeding 377 people; $9,350 in gift cards have also been given out.
Come out and celebrate with the Chestermere Regional Food Bank on Saturday!!