BASS: One person’s act reveals again heart of the community
If Kamloops is ever looking to fill the position of official city cheerleader, look no farther than Bernadette Siracky.
You can’t have a conversation with her right now without hearing how absolutely wonderful the city is, in her view.
And she’s had a pretty good opportunity to make that assessment in the past week since getting a phone call while on vacation in the U.S. that the food bank she oversees was on fire.
I can just imagine how she felt because when I returned to the hotel in Lethbridge, where I was staying, and saw an email about the fire, I went into some sort of “oh-dear-what-can-we-do-what’s-happening-oh-dear!” mode.
In fact, I didn’t even read my text to Bernadette that night, which led to a weird spell-check moment that left her wondering who was texting her and why were they asking about “his woman.”
I thought I had typed “Heck, woman.” She is still making fun of it when we talk. The fact she can joke at a time like this speaks volumes about resilience.
Within hours, it seems, Kamloops had started to rally as it learned an apparent arsonist had managed to burn the one area of the main Wilson Street building where food that was destined for hampers for the next two months was being stored.
Volunteers were out every day emptying donation bins at local
grocery stores, something that just doesn’t happen.
Volunteers, staff and a couple of board members were at the site on Monday — a statutory holiday when they could have been vegging out at a lake or hanging with friends at a cabin — to make sure hampers were ready to be given out this week.
In fact, Bernadette said, there were more volunteers there this week than ever before.
People were stopping to hand over donations, be they food or cash, on a regular basis. It continued through this week.
That fact means that this list won’t be complete because, even as I sit here writing this column, there are people dropping off food or cash or cheques to help the food bank.
There was the couple from Phase One Heating who brought more than 200 pounds of food they had bought.
Their children have never known a day when there wasn’t enough food on the table, the wife said, so they wanted to help those who live with that reality.
Some folks from Scotia Bank brought $5,000.
Denis Peterson of Coopers Foods called and offered his company to do whatever it needed to do to help.
Christian Beatty, a nine-year-old who has his own personal link with the food bank, collected hundreds of pounds of food and plenty of cash in a drive he decided on as soon as he heard about the fire.
National Rent-A-Car called offering to help, as did Valley First Credit Union.
An employee at the Delta Sun Peaks who had a load of scrap metal he was taking in brought the cash he received from it to add to the collection.
Rotary Daybreak came to help, as did Graycon Computers. who look after equipment at the building.
BDO Dunwoody called to help.
Project X gave theatre-goers for its production of Romeo and Juliet a discount if they brought food.
Folks at food banks in Vancouver, Surrey and Merritt called offering whatever they could send that would help.
Some folks have wondered aloud why the food collection is happening, since the agency has insurance that will cover the losses.
Anyone who has ever dealt with an insurance claim knows the answer to that question.
Yes, the food will eventually be replaced by insurance — but people continue to need help feeding themselves and their families now.
And — no surprise to Bernadette and her staff — Kamloops is making sure that happens.