She may be new in her role as manager of the Richmond Hill Community Food Bank, but Lee Reynolds is a longtime supporter and activist in local food drives and food security in general.
Reynolds took on the formal job of manager in June 2017, when previous manager Brenda Ewart retired after 26 years at the helm of the non-profit organization.
As the mother of three daughters, the Richmond Hill resident participated in school food drives when her girls were in elementary school.
“I volunteered in several local school programs such as Reading Recovery, the school milk program and food drives. Then when my children moved on to secondary school, I assisted the Richmond Hill food bank on sorting days,” recalled Reynolds. “That lead me to want to give a larger commitment and I applied to be a regular volunteer in the spring of 2010.”
As a volunteer, fulfilling weekly shifts at the 55 Newkirk Road facility, she found she was able to use many of the skills she earned in various career roles in sales and marketing and as a regional manager for several large national organizations.
When Ewart’s decision to retire was brought to the board of directors, and the food bank manager position was formally posted, Reynolds decided to apply.
“I felt my knowledge, skills and abilities in sales, marketing and customer relations — coupled with my eight years of experience volunteering weekly at the food bank — would make me a good fit to continue building on the foundation and good work of our previous manager,” explained Reynolds.
The food bank is open every weekday morning, and on a daily basis she fields telephone and email questions and offers of help, co-ordinates the volunteer schedule, ensures the warehouse is safe and organized, and that the clients are served in a respectful way with empathy and dignity.
She has high praise for the dedicated volunteers, and pointedly says “they are so important — we couldn’t do it without them”.
She says she’s yet to meet any “unanticipated challenges,” but points to the daily challenge and worry of having enough food on the shelves to serve the growing number of families and individuals in Richmond Hill who cope with hunger — approximately 1,000 mouths to feed each month.
“My greatest challenge to date is ensuring I have enough food on hand to serve the ever increasing number of clients. It really is unfortunate that so many people find themselves in need within our community.”
But the other side of the coin is the generosity she witnesses on the part of businesses, schools and churches, and the gratitude of the clients who receive three to four days worth of food.
“Knowing our volunteers are making a difference in the community and watching people leave the food bank receiving the help they need, is what makes the job most rewarding."