To the Editor:
In 1983, a few caring women, concerned about feeding the hungry in this community, started working together to feed those in need. There being an abundance of fresh food in our valley, they set out to distribute the excess, going so far as to dig potatoes in local fields to share with others.
Over the years, it grew and grew to being the only food bank in B.C. that depended only on the generosity of our townspeople. In 1984 it became Creston Valley Gleaners Society, a registered charity complete with bylaws, guidelines and policies. For years, a variety of volunteers ran Gleaners successfully, providing for the food bank, plus over $60,000 annually for other charities in town.
Then, a few years ago, some executive members decided that this was now a big business and should be treated as such. Volunteers no longer had any say, and very dominating individuals took control. Members stopped attending meetings, management developed new programs, purchased equipment and built more buildings, and bylaws and guidelines were discarded, changing the whole internal concept of the society.
For years, a simple thing like having a tree removed to make room for a shed to be built was a decision reached by all volunteers, and a 50-cent increase in wages for maintenance was a shared decision, along with any spending over $2,500.
Volunteers were treated like shareholders, earning a say by the investment of their time; they were proud of the work they did. Now volunteers are treated like paid employees without benefits.
Many long-term experienced volunteers were either terminated or left because their contributions were no longer appreciated, some were displaced rudely and uncaringly, even with threats of RCMP removal, thoroughly humiliated by an organization they gave their best to. The public dismissal of the previous elected president was atrocious and not worthy of this great organization.
To date from the November volunteers phone list, 15 people have left — 120 years, almost 50,000 hours of experience, gone. And then they are crying to the public for more volunteers.
Something has to be done to give the volunteers their sense of “part” — part of an organization that cares, part of a warm welcoming family. This is not the military!
In our opinion, Gleaners should return to the happy and friendly place it used to be, where volunteers loved to spend their time even if they only had a couple of hours a week to give. We mention this because one woman having volunteered for 19 years was let go for that very reason — she could not work a four-hour shift.
Treat volunteers like they make a difference, and they will!
Judy Franz, Wendy Jackson, Karen Sabiston,
Yvonne Goodall, Rose Marie Wood,
Margaret Peterson, Colleen Chapelow