Two representatives from the Powell River Salvation Army have returned home from Vernon, where they fed evacuees and first responders during the White Rock Lake fire.
Major Rosanne Fraser and community services coordinator Karie McQuarrie cooked and served up to 120 breakfasts and lunches daily to evacuees and first responders during their week of duty in the food truck.
Fraser said the pair left on August 29 to serve with the Salvation Army in Vernon. She said the pair went up to relieve other volunteers who had been serving in the food services truck.
“The team that was up there was actually from Vernon and they were almost burned out,” said Fraser.
The head person with the Salvation Army emergency disaster services (EDS) called Fraser, asking if she and another person from her team could assist in Vernon with feeding from the EDS truck.
Fraser said McQuarrie was doing a lot of the cooking of the meals and then McQuarrie joined Fraser on the feeding truck to serve and be a listening ear to those who needed one. Meals were prepared at the Salvation Army church in Vernon in the kitchen and were brought over hot to the food truck, where there were warmers.
In terms of food preparation, Fraser said some of the lunches they prepared included items such as chili, hamburgers, chicken stew and a roast beef dinner. Always, there was coffee, tea, juice or water and dessert included, she added.
“It wasn’t just little meals that we made,” said Fraser. “We made healthy, hot meals.”
Fraser said being able to assist was a great, rewarding experience. While she had performed this kind of service before, it was a first for McQuarrie.
“It was a real eye-opening for her,” said Fraser.
McQuarrie said the experience was life-changing and very inspirational.
“I felt honoured to be able to help those who felt they lost so much,” she added.
Many stories were shared, such as how one evacuee lost her horses and her home, and was so thankful she could get a hot meal and have someone to talk to, said Fraser.
“Others were allowed to return home after a month, however, they didn’t know what was saved and what was destroyed,” added Fraser. “It was a great experience and we felt that everyone appreciated all that we did.”
First responders appreciate listeners
Fraser said one comment from one of the first responders was that they appreciated the Salvation Army members being there to feed them, but also to listen to their stories and concerns.
“We were there to help and to serve in this way,” said Fraser.
She said thanks go to the Vernon Salvation Army for providing the food truck, and next time, the Powell River Salvation Army will have its own truck.
Fraser said Powell River Community Forest has assisted the local Salvation Army in procuring a new vehicle, which is in the process of being built.
“We will have our own and will be doing very similar things with that vehicle,” said Fraser. “We’ll be going out weekly in Powell River, at least once, and maybe twice, to feed our own community.”
She said the Salvation Army currently has an old vehicle they have used to feed dinners to others in the community who need a hot meal. Last winter, they went to three different locations in the region.
When the new vehicle arrives, they will be going out two nights a week and adding three different locations. The new vehicle will allow them to be more efficient and to deliver even more free, hot meals to those who need them.
“Whoever came got a free meal,” said Fraser. “No questions asked.”