The Bread of Life Society is serving up new opportunities for college students and first-time job applicants under direction of the new operations manager, Lynda Wright.
Recently the Bread of Life began a program with the BC Centre for Ability, hiring applicants through INEO for their first job experience.
In addition, the society is working with North Island College’s Employment Transitions Culinary Assistant Program.
“Kids with learning disabilities, they’re doing their job shadowing here,” Wright said. “We’re super excited about it.”
The Bread of Life is also now hosting practicum placements for the college’s Human Services Worker program.
“It’s a permanent practicum placement for the human services worker [program], which I think is amazing. It’s interacting with people at risk, people from all aspects of life, and then learning about non-profit society,” Wright said.
Wright joined the Bread of Life as operations manager in January with a list of goals and challenges from the board of directors.
First, she said, was the need to hire new kitchen staff, including a kitchen supervisor, and get weekend meals serving again, which was achieved by Feb. 10.
With weekend meals being offered again, there is a need for more volunteers.
“I need to re-establish our volunteer base. We have a few hardcore loyal volunteers but we need to build that up because the weekends are really desperate,” Wright said.
On average, the centre sees upwards of 50 people for breakfasts and 70 people for lunch. Wright said on weekends they’re serving up to 200 meals and even seeing a few children coming in to eat. She said more volunteers are needed to keep the weekend service running.
In addition to meals, the Bread of Life offers a medical clinic through Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) for people in the area who may not have easy access to other options around town.
“We house VIHA clinics on Monday and Wednesday, there’s nurses from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and then on Friday there’s a doctor as well. We have mental health nurses and physical health nurses plus a doctor,” Wright said. “I think it’s awesome because a lot of people who wouldn’t go to the doctor other ways do have access here.”
Another addition to the centre is a new office by the front door that was made possible through a grant from the Alberni Valley Community Foundation and many volunteers who helped build and paint it.
The centre also runs a food recovery program that utilizes gleaned food from grocery stores in town for their kitchen. Any excess perishable food that isn’t used quickly enough is redistributed to lunchtime guests. The program uses a volunteer driver and recovers one or two half-ton loads of food a day that would otherwise be thrown away.
Wright views the Bread of Life as “more than just a soup kitchen,” and said this is a great time in her life to be working at the centre.
“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when I came to Port Alberni and I saw [the Bread of Life’s] ad and I thought, that sounds like something I can really immerse myself into,” she said. “It’s for the challenge, and to contribute to something bigger then yourself.”
Prior to moving to Port Alberni, Wright lived in Nanaimo and Campbell River where she ran a couple of small businesses, including a café.