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Workers celebrate launch at Sea Fair

Food drive comes with a sweet reward
Andy Rice

A brand new community volunteer organization will stage its inaugural event this weekend at Powell River Sea Fair. Kitchen and housekeeping staff from the private sector of Powell River Health Care Workers (Hospital Employees’ Union) Local 6424 have formed a Community Spirit Committee to connect members with each other and the community. The group will be giving out mini ice cream cones on Saturday, July 23 in exchange for non-perishable food donations.

Union member Misty Gleave came up with the idea for a volunteer group several months ago and secured funding and a long-term plan with the help of fellow member Dan Rogers and shop steward John Fraser.

“Basically, a group of us in our union local decided that we wanted to come up with a volunteer group where we could do different things in the community for the community,” said Gleave. “The purpose of that is to strengthen the bond within our local and with Powell River at large as well.”

Members of Local 6424 who work as kitchen and housekeeping staff are employed by two different companies and work out of three different locations in Powell River—Powell River General Hospital, Olive Devaud Residence and Evergreen Extended Care. “It can be hard to connect with each other,” said Gleave. “It’s all about strengthening ties and supporting each other and supporting Powell River.”

Funding for the group comes from a community-building fund financed by the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) head office in Burnaby. “We applied for funding and have actually been allocated some funds to spearhead different projects around Powell River or to participate in things that are already there,” said Gleave. “The HEU has been very proactive in promoting community togetherness and solidarity, basically anything that will strengthen your local.”

Gleave, Rogers and Fraser worked together to brainstorm different ideas and came up with the concept for this weekend’s event. “At first, we thought about giving out hot dogs as a promotional thing,” said Gleave. “But then we started thinking about how to tie it into an organization that we could actually help.”

Powell River Action Centre Food Bank seemed like an obvious choice. Supplies are often scarce in the summer months as the organization struggles to stay on the radar amidst a host of summer events and activities. Food bank administrator Gina Kendrick said this weekend’s donations would make a huge difference.

“In the summer, people go on holidays and honestly, they forget and you can’t blame them,” she said. “Our shelves are really empty this time of year so it’s going to be so wonderful.”

Fifteen members of HEU Local 6424 will attend on Saturday, July 23 to help serve ice cream and collect non-perishable food donations. Members will hand out flyers during the parade and a collection booth will be set up at Willingdon Beach from 9 am until the beginning of the fireworks display.

“We’re hoping with the ice cream that a lot of families will come down,” said Gleave. “It’s a good way to educate the children and let people know that there is this need in our community. We’re hoping to get families and community members talking and remembering that people are still hungry in the summertime too.”

The group is already planning future events and activities. “We’re looking for different ideas,” said Gleave. “We’re also looking at doing a scholarship or bursary for Brooks Secondary School.”

For more information on the Community Spirit Committee or on Saturday’s event, interested readers can contact Gleave at 604.414.0579.