We are always interested in hearing more about the individuals in food banking across Canada! This month, our spotlight is on Norman Dunn from SOS Dépannage/Moisson Granby in Granby, QC.
What is your role in the food banking network?
I’m the founding director of SOS Dépannage/Moisson Granby, an organization founded in 1987 as a temporary measure during the economic crisis. Unfortunately, even today, people are still going hungry, which makes no sense in a country like Canada.
My job involves more than simply giving out food. A person who comes in with a black eye needs more. We need to be able to listen and direct people to other services. We need to give them hope. Food relief is that and much more.
Describe your typical work day in one word.
Integrity (and respect). Every day, the decisions we make affect people, so I can’t let myself be tired or disrespectful in any way.
What inspired you to work in food banks?
Helping my fellow man has always been very important to me. When I was young, this value captivated me. Money didn’t attract me; I wanted to change things. That’s what gives my life meaning.
What is your greatest achievement in your current role?
For 20 years, I’ve been helping people directly. Seeing the despair on people’s faces when I told them I didn’t have enough food for them, well that just made me put all my energy into finding a solution. My outlet was the social economy.
Today, SOS Dépannage/Moisson Granby manages five different organizations, including two social economy enterprises, which allow us to buy food and run the organization without depending on benefit dinners and so forth.
I can prove that a non-profit organization (NPO) can finance itself. We’ve reached 70% and my goal is 100% by the time I retire.
What is the greatest challenge to overcome in your current role?
Not normalizing poverty. Each case is a new one, and you need to empathize and control your emotions to avoid being overwhelmed by sadness and despair.
It’s also about raising awareness: Christmas baskets don’t feed children in September. People are hungry year-round!
If you could have one wish granted to address hunger in Canada, what would it be?
The government certainly plays a crucial role in all of this. To me, society—our Canada—is like a giant snake. The government (the head) makes decisions that have tremendous consequences for people at the end (the tail). We need to be fairer to those who cannot and will never get out of their situation. Measures must be implemented.
I’ve encountered many people who wanted to escape poverty, but weren’t equipped to rejoin the workforce. Steps must be taken if you haven’t worked for four or five years or have suffered from depression. That’s what the political world doesn’t understand. Existing social integration projects don’t work.
What talent would you like most?
Being a good communicator! I could be more interesting and influence people more.
If you could give your younger self advice, what would it be?
Hmm… that’s hard to answer because my life wouldn’t have been the same. Maybe continue my studies. But the fact is I’ve had the best “job” in the world and only succeeded because I listen to my heart.
Who are your heroes, fictional or real?
When I was young, I read a book by a follower of Emmaüs (a non-profit organization that helps the poor), and it left a big impression on me.
What is your idea of happiness?
To be at peace with yourself. To appreciate what you have: “If you don’t have what you like, like what you have.”
During my work, I’ve listened to families without money, threatened by Hydro or with a wife fallen ill. I would go home and consider how lucky I was.
Also my family: I have four amazing sisters who believed in me.
What is your motto?
Honesty. Tolerance to differences. I make it a point to talk about it with my employees and volunteers.
Tell us something quirky about you.
Well, I attempted to join the priesthood twice. My “buddies” wanted to be lawyers or architects and would make fun of me. But that’s what I wanted to do. Luckily another path opened up for me, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do everything I did afterwards.
What’s your theme song?
Tu trouveras la paix dans ton cœur (2019), a tribute to Renée Claude, a Quebec singer with Alzheimer’s disease.
Do you know a food bank or food banker that could be featured on our next Spotlight? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.