The economic crisis is doubly bad news for organizations like the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank. Laid-off workers are coming through the door for emergency help at the same time donations slack off due to the recession.
Executive director Mel Boutilier said they have had a spike in people coming home from Alberta broke and needing their help with food, furniture and other emergency items.
Just last week a woman came into his office after her 47-year-old husband died suddenly. They had no insurance and she and her son, 10, had no way to cover their rent.
“These are the kind of cases we get in here every day,” Boutilier said.
“Because of the colder weather, the challenges of keeping the oil tank full and food on the table (can be too much),” added Thomas Gouthro, who was recently put in charge of fundraising and communications for the north-end Halifax organization. “We have this emergency fund, but it’s hard to keep a positive balance on it.”
“Donations aren’t as plentiful as they used to be,” said Boutilier. “We have to work harder to meet demand.”
People who can’t give financially can help themselves and Parker Street by buying furniture, clothing and household items at the organization’s two shops: 6110 Almon St. in Halifax or 95 Caledonia Rd. in Dartmouth.
The food and furniture bank is looking for one more item: a new Mel Boutilier. The 81-year-old has worked full time at Parker Street for 26 years and jokes he’s still waiting for his first paycheque.
“I will keep going as long as I’m able and until we find somebody (to replace me),” Boutilier said.