The newly appointed executive director of Comptoir alimentaire Drummond, Véronique Sawyer, has a contagious passion for philanthropy.
We are honoured that she agreed to meet with us despite the upcoming holiday season, a busy time for food banks, to give us more details about her role, the initiatives of the Comptoir alimentaire Drummond, and the 2022 edition of its Défi Entreprises.
Without further ado, we are pleased to introduce Véronique Sawyer, Executive Director of Comptoir alimentaire Drummond.
Can you tell us about the mission of Comptoir alimentaire Drummond?
“The Comptoir alimentaire Drummond is the only food bank in the regional county municipality of Drummondville (Drummond RCM). The Guignolée campaign allows us to raise the financial resources to distribute Christmas baskets during the holiday season and offer our services throughout the year to many families in the area.
The vast majority of funds that allow us to offer our services and continue operations come from donations from contributors and the Guignolée fundraising campaign.”
The Drummond RCM counts 18 municipalities and has a population of 109,810 (source: Drummond RCM. Note: website is only available in French.).
How many households benefit from the food bank’s assistance?
“In 2021, the Comptoir delivered 1,300 Christmas baskets. Based on the new reality we are currently experiencing, we expect a significant increase in Christmas basket deliveries in 2022.
Food prices have spiked exponentially, unfortunately leading to additional demand for food banks.
80 households benefit from the help of the Comptoir alimentaire Drummond every day. Depending on their situation, they receive food deliveries weekly, every two or three weeks, or once a month.”
Véronique, you have recently taken on the role of Executive Director at Comptoir alimentaire Drummond. What motivated you to take on this position?
“I was a member of the Comptoir’s board of directors for six years. I handled everything related to communications and fundraising and often helped with the food baskets or sorting. I was involved in many initiatives and had various responsibilities during those years of service. Later, I resigned to pursue another career, but a few years later, the executive director contacted me and asked me to return.
I strongly desired to work with the Comptoir, so I accepted. However, when I returned, I got a surprise. The executive director announced her departure! You can imagine that I was in shock. After much consideration, I picked up the phone and offered to take the role.
I was looking for a new challenge and found my match with this new position. I am involved in many aspects of the nonprofit world: marketing, communications, finance, grants, public relations, you name it!
I love what I do and am passionate about the Comptoir’s mission. When you’re in here every day and see the positive impact your work has on the well-being of others, it makes you want to get involved even more.”
“I will always remember a specific moment at Comptoir alimentaire Drummond. I was asked to help with product distribution out front, and as I entered the main room, I saw a little boy barely two years old. We could quickly see that times were difficult at home. The little boy devoured a loaf of bread as if he had not eaten for several days. I can’t explain the feeling. I just stood there watching him and promised myself that I would make things happen so I would never have to witness a scene like that again.” —Veronique Sawyer, Executive Director of Comptoir alimentaire Drummond.
This new role is certainly a challenge, especially with the holiday season approaching and the Défi Entreprises for the Guignolée.
“Absolutely! The Défi Entreprises is a Comtpoir initiative that has been repeated for the past several years. We solicit participation from the Drummond RCM business community to collect food products and raise funds.
When it started, the Défi Entreprises focused on collecting non-perishable foods, which required a lot of organization, logistics, and travel for our driver. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. It became challenging to get food products, and many businesses experienced slowdowns in their operations or temporary closures. Moreover, employees were working remotely when their jobs allowed it. There were also numerous government regulations and guidelines for collecting and delivering food. One of the solutions the team came up with was to get gift cards or donations so that we could buy items ourselves and offer a variety of perishable and non-perishable food products. Things are slowly getting back to normal in the last few months.”
Who receives food assistance?
“The people who come to us are not part of a particular demographic. Various situations are possible: recent break-ups, people living alone, students, people with mental illnesses or disorders, workers who have difficulty supporting themselves or their families, etc. There is no typical case. We are talking about ordinary people who, by a snowball effect, come knocking at our door. Our role is to get them the help they need and ensure they’re getting enough to eat to recover and get through the situation.”
“A few years ago, circumstances and a particular situation shook a man’s life. He had a career, a good salary, and a lovely family with three small children. One morning, like any other, he woke up, got ready, and left the family residence to go to work. Unfortunately, he did not arrive at his destination and woke up in a hospital bed. The man now had to come to terms with his physical limitations caused by the accident.
At the time, income protection insurance was not the same as it is today. Hospitalization, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, and depression were now part of this man’s reality. Since he no longer had an income, he struggled to provide for his family. His wife, who was a stay-at-home mom, returned to work. Anxiety became more and more present in their daily life. Then came the break-up. The man found himself alone and unemployed with three young children to support.
This man came to the Comptoir alimentaire Drummond for help. With the stress of being able to feed his family lifted from his shoulders, he was able to get back on track slowly. Step by step, he managed to overcome the situation. He found a new job and regained stability. He was finally happy, and his children were well. At last, a story with a happy ending.
Years later, this man still lends a helping hand and is giving back as best he can to the Comptoir alimentaire Drummond out of gratefulness for the help he received during a difficult time in his life.”
What message would you like to share with the businesses and citizens of the Drummond RCM?
“I have only one question: Is it normal that in our society in 2022 there are still people who do not have enough to eat? As a community, we must help our neighbours. Anyone can go through a difficult time. Who knows, you may already have people around you who are going through this kind of situation. I don’t wish it upon anyone, but it could be you or me sooner or later. A community stands together; we can make a difference if we all contribute. Every little donation, every little action can make a big difference!”
How can people get involved with your organization?
“Everyone is welcome to come and meet us to volunteer at the Comptoir. We’ll discuss and help you find your place on our team. You’ll see, we are very welcoming!”
Do you accept contributions throughout the year?
“Yes! Offering food goods or donations directly at Comptoir alimentaire Drummond is possible. You can also visit our website to make donations online.
During the 2022 holiday season, businesses can participate in the Défi Entreprises by contacting us directly.
Businesses and citizens can also purchase Loto-Guignolée tickets for a chance to win several great prizes and participate in our fundraising campaign. These tickets are available at the Comptoir alimentaire Drummond, the Laferté renovation centre, and the information kiosk at the Promenades Drummondville.”
What an interview!
We thank Véronique Sawyer for meeting with us. We hope you enjoyed this blog post and encourage you to contact the Comptoir alimentaire Drummond to offer your help. Remember, every little action helps!
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