Aside from preparing approximately 200 meals a day, operating an outreach program and maintaining regular financial obligations, the Loaves and Fishes Benevolent Society recently had to replace the roof of their existing facility.
The organization operates on a tight budget in the best of times, so the roof was an unexpected and large expense, prior to the donations of community members.
Michelle Jacques, Raymond Forget and Marco Gilbert of a local roofing company stepped up with the help of their friend Cindy Mandrusiak, a local business owner, to donate approximately $15,000 worth of materials and labour.
“Cindy (Mandrusiak) saw it in the paper that Loaves and Fishes was in need of a roof. She called me and said, ‘Michelle, if I donated material, would you do the labour?’ So we came and measured the roof, and came up with a plan and we’re here,” explained Jacques.
The Society’s roof was falling apart after severe water damage due to flooding. Shingles were peeling, water was seeping into offices and the Society had no extra money in the budget to address these issues.
Most of the damage had occurred on the south side of the building’s roof and affected a number of offices and storage areas in the building.
Halina Jarvis, executive director of Loaves and Fishes, and the rest of the staff and volunteers expressed their thankfulness to the donors for their services. Without them, the organization could have had to fundraise for a number of months before doing the necessary repairs to the roof.
“It’s always a struggle financially and with staffing. It’s a vicious circle because we don’t have enough funds to help the staff, so they are all stretched. We’re all working way over what we should work, and most are working for minimum wage,” Jarvis said.
“It’s hard to get people who can come and work the hours that we need. We really could use double the staff that we have now.”
Jarvis expressed her concern over not having the new roof by winter and her extreme gratitude for the community donations that will bring a new roof before the snow falls.
Loaves and Fishes operates a number of programs including daily dinners, preparing school lunches for various schools, and the Outreach program where they connect clients to community services. To operate these programs, volunteers and donations are always needed at the Society.
“Anything people can volunteer for, anything at all, would be great. Outreach would be great – we need people to come in and answer more phones. I could use people to help file some more. I have one gal who files for us, but she can’t be here everyday. These people are giving of themselves in their normal lives,” Jarvis explained.
“Anybody can come in and do anything – if they have a skill, if they have a heart to come and help, they’re welcome to come.”
Construction on the new roof began Sept. 1st and is expected to be finished quickly.