Every great movement, every impactful event, has occurred out of a place of pain, of crisis. Think of Terry Fox and his decision, despite his cancer diagnosis, to run across the country and raise awareness. Out of his sacrifice, greatness has come. Funds have been raised, awareness has abounded and some cancers are curable. All thanks to one courageous man with one courageous decision.
So too is the story of the birth of The People’s Pantry. It’s a story that begins in a moment of extreme crisis and pain. A moment of destitution and hunger. But a moment when one singular person made one choice out of sheer desperation.
That moment occurred when one woman with a 9 month old baby and three other children of varying ages, walked into her husbands den and found him in a state of overdose. To what she did not know, but the minutes and knowledge that followed, as grisly and grotesque as it was, became the birthing of the People’s Pantry.
What followed can only be described as a synergy of events. The man went into hospital from there into a recovery home. We would like to say that from this point on all is well that ends well, but that was not to be the fate of this family. However, it was through this that connections were made and an event that should have been the undoing became one of blessing.
This mother was now in crisis. She was faced with four children to feed, one but an infant, and a husband that was in recovery, lucky to have his life let alone anything else. Barely able to manage rent, she often faced the choice between shelter and food. However, through the recovery home, she was able to access bread. Bread that the recovery home had in abundance, and was more than willing to give to her instead of direct it to a landfill. Bread from Cobs Bread.
Every Thursday at 7 pm, this mother would drive to the recovery home where she would pick up three to five garbage sized bags of bread. She would bring them home and, with the three older children would together juggle attending to the baby and bagging the bread into individual bags. Very quickly, she realized that there was far more bread than she and hers could consume. This mother was connected to a network of other single mothers who also struggled with the same issue: shelter or food? And so began the “Bread Program!”
Realizing that she had an abundance, this mother decided to share the wealth. Four times a month, her and her children would gather together, pick up the bread, and then package it into individual bags. And four times a month, she would fill her trunk and go to two different, preset locations, open her trunk and stay there for an hour or two, so other single mothers could access the bread she was blessed to be able to receive. One moment of hungry desperation. One singular decision. One non-profit society. One great movement.
Robert Mazzarolo – Board Member
Robert lives with his partner in Coquitlam and look forward to making their lives together here in the Tri-Cities. Robert grew up in the Tri-Cities and is passionate about the future well being of our community. As such, he is involved as a board of director with a number of not-for-profit organizations that focus on assisting those whom are in times of vulnerability.
Robert works as a lawyer for a Vancouver law firm after being called to the bar in 2017. When not practising law or volunteering, his personal interests include playing and coaching soccer, basketball, football, and taking hikes in nature.
Deborah Fowler – Board Member
Long time Port Coquitlam resident (20 years) and proud community member. I’ve raised my family here and to me it is the best place to live as it has a strong sense of community and it’s just plain beautiful. I work at Westcoast Family Centers society in a pregnancy out reach program which keeps me very grounded in my community. Recently due to Covid 19 my company took on a food security project to address the immediate needs of our community. I was tasked with the pleasure of coordinating the project and this put me in contact with the People’s Pantry. I truly believe and support the long term goals of the People’s Pantry and I am excited to be a part of a very important organization.
Glenn Pollock – Vice Chair
Glenn is probably best known in Port Coquitlam for his many years playing and coaching lacrosse, coaching hockey and supporting local sport. Glenn’s volunteer efforts, often in collaboration with his wife Christine, mirrored their family life through the years and included volunteering at schools and coaching sports teams as their three boys grew up. Glenn now enjoys time with his four grandchildren, Lily, Charlie, Hayden and Ruby.
A resident of Port Coquitlam since 1982, Glenn grew up in Trail and developed an interest in broadcast journalism when working as a radio station DJ as a teenager. He later earned a degree in broadcast journalism from BCIT, but ultimately chose a career with the schedule and stability that suited his roles of dedicated father and community volunteer. After being employed with Safeway for 30+ years in shipping and receiving, he now serves as an aide to a provincial MLA. He has also worked security for sports and entertainment events over the years.
Glenn’s other volunteer efforts have included helping the Mother Hastings Emmanuelle Society feed the homeless in Vancouver. He currently plays on the Tri City Masters Field Lacrosse League and coaches tyke lacrosse. Glenn also served on various City committees related to sports and recreation, and received a City of Port Coquitlam Volunteer Recognition Award in 2004.
Jayeson Shaffer – Board Secretary
Jason has his Master of Education Counselling and Bachelor of Social Work degrees, and is a Registered Social Worker in the Province of British Columbia.
Jayeson retired in 2017 after 25 years in Social Work and Counselling: as a Concurrent Disorders Therapist for Fraser Health Authority in Community Mental Health and Substance Use Services; as member of specialized mental health teams in BC; and with Alcohol and Drug Services. He has experience in clinical social work with a wide variety of clients having worked with a number of other professionals as team members, including Psychiatrists, Psychiatric Nurses, Registered Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, Vocational Rehabilitation Therapists, Recreation Therapists, Alcohol and Drug counsellors, various agencies as well as Inpatient and Outpatient treatment facilities. He also taught for colleges and UNBC.
During his full time employment he regularly presented to professional and public audiences on many topics, including utilization of Employee Assistance Programs, substance abuse, mental health, and more.
Jayeson enjoys walks with his wife and their dog, time with his family, arts and entertainment.
Jayeson maintains his private practice office in Port Coquitlam, BC.
Kristie de Jong – Board Chair
Founding member of The People’s Pantry, Kristie de Jong is a single mom of 4 residing in Port Coquitlam. Kristie has been a long time Port Coquitlam resident moving here when she was just 5 years of age. As a single mother she knows intimately the struggles of food security and as a result has become passionate about ensuring that single mothers and their children have ease in obtaining quality food and nutriution. Apart from her volunteer efforts with the People’s Pantry, Kristie is a clincial counselor specializing in trauma and crisis response. Her professional knowledge of the importance of quality nutrtion fuels her passion for this cause as she knows how crucial nutrition is for mental wellness. Apart from working and volunteering, Kristie enjoys quality time spent with her four children, as well as enjoying such hobbies as photography and things of a creative bent.