We are always interested in hearing more about the individuals in food banking across Canada! This month, our spotlight is on Kerri Abbott of Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Carbonear, NL.
What is your role in food banking?
I’m a Coordinator for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank in Carbonear, NL. It’s a volunteer position and we service over 350 km and hundreds of families a month. We also host community meals and a number of programs and services from our newly renovated building.
Describe a typical day in one word.
Unique, never routine. Each day, volunteers use their education, experience and eagerness to respond to the needs of those we serve. They go beyond the normal responses, think outside the box and their solution-focused mindsets are how we respond to the challenges each day.
What was your inspiration to get involved in food banking?
At the time, I was working with a nonprofit involved in housing and homelessness and had spoken to a community group. Afterwards, I was approached by a lady in the community who informed me that the local food bank was in danger of closing because of lack of interest in taking on the role of operating the food bank. I met with the group and on my first day served a lady who had been eating ice cubes to trick her stomach into feeling full. I can still remember standing in her kitchen listening to her story, seeing the empty cupboards and fridge and seeing what intangible gem a simple box of food also gave her, which is hope. From that moment on, I’ve been committed to food banking.
What is your greatest achievement in your current role?
It’s a team effort and we have two answers. The first affected the daily operation of our food bank and what services we provided. We acquired the building we operate out of and were able to access funding to complete much-needed renovations to the building (interior & exterior) which helped us stay in operation and offer expanded programs & services. The second is raising awareness of hunger in the region and our mandate. We have awesome donors, partner organizations, and supporters who help us operate and offer the services we do. We’re very grateful!
What is the greatest challenge in your current role?
The greatest challenge is being proactive instead of reactive. It’s something we are striving for more in our programs and services. Most of our focus is on the daily operation – responding to the growing need in our region, having enough food or organizing food drives. How do we help those we serve better?
If you could have one wish granted that would address hunger in Canada what would it be?
That’s easy! My one wish would be no food insecurity and everyone to have access to affordable, safe housing.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to draw – even my stick figures look like a mash of lines.
If you could tell your younger self advice, what would it be?
Take everything one step at a time. Busy schedules and deadlines can be overwhelming at times and we get caught up in the idea of being busy and of getting everything done right away. But, if you take it one step at a time, not only is it all manageable but you actually get to enjoy the experience and learn from it.
Who are your heroes? Fictional or real life
My real life heroes are our volunteers at the food bank. We had no heat during part of our time in the building and we continued to operate despite the very cold conditions. They were adamant and fierce in their commitment to the people we serve. I can’t stress how cold it was at times, especially preparing Christmas hampers, and they did it with laughs and smiles (and layers of clothes) and continued to show up. They are awesome!
What is your idea of happiness?
Happiness is drinking a strong cup of coffee on my patio with my dog, Bella or being and laughing with family and friends.
What is your motto?
Don’t be afraid of failure, be afraid of not trying. Get it done.
Something quirky about you that others may not expect or know?
I love teapots, I have no idea why – probably because of Mrs. Potts from The Beauty and the Beast.
Your theme song?
I love Tom Petty. His song “I Won’t Back Down” is all about resilience. Love it!
Do you know a food bank or food banker that could be featured on our next Spotlight? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.