About Us- Board of Directors

RFB Directors and Staff attending the annual Strategic Planning Session
RFB Directors and Staff attending the annual Strategic Planning Session

The 2014-2015 Richmond Food Bank Society Board of Directors:

Board Executive:

 

President: Sheila Johnston

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What is your background?  What skills do you bring to the Richmond Food Bank board of directors?

My background is in communications. The skills I bring include writing, public speaking, and strategic planning.

What attracted you to volunteer at the Richmond Food Bank?

My Mother inspired me because she told me first-hand stories of being a young girl in the Great Depression, and how when a tramp, or ‘hobo’, came to the door of her family home, asking for a sandwich, my Grandmother was very conflicted. Gram had a family of five, struggling through the Dirty Thirties. A man at the door asking for a sandwich to get him through another day was something she wanted to do, but couldn’t always extend food to feed a hungry unemployed man, who begged for food at a housewife’s door. I grew up in a home that always provided enough meals and snacks. I want to help to feed those in our society who find it difficult, or impossible, to provide food to their families each day of each week.

What is your most memorable RFB moment?

When I was volunteering before soccer season, I sat at the table where parents could sign up their children for free soccer. One day a father wanted his son to play for free, and when I offered the father a pen, he steering it toward his son, who was 8 or 9, and asked his son to do all of the paperwork. It struck me that no only did that father struggle with making ends meet, with feeding his family, but also with illiteracy. He and his son were good partners. It was a powerful moment, and I find I often think about how they are doing.

 

Vice-President: Jeff Smulders

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What is your background?  What skills do you bring to the Richmond Food Bank board of directors?

I am a professional accountant with over 40 years’ experience in accounting and finance.  I use those skills in the financial oversight of the organization, an important role for the board of directors.

What attracted you to volunteer at the Richmond Food Bank?

I heard about the Richmond Food Bank from an acquaintance’s wife and thought it would be something I could get involved with in my semi-retirement.

What is your most memorable RFB moment?

My most memorable moment was being involved in the recent purchase of the new van.

 

Treasurer: Lola Merenda

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What is your background?  What skills do you bring to the Richmond Food Bank board of directors?

I was an elementary school teacher and administrator. My time in the school system showed me there is a real need in Richmond to provide support for people needing food assistance.

What attracted you to volunteer at the Richmond Food Bank?

Working with children who collected food and money for the food bank inspired me to continue that effort in retirement.

What is your most memorable RFB moment?

I hear so many comments and see so many expressions of appreciation from the people we serve. It’s great to know that we’re having a positive impact on their lives.

 

Secretary: Mamie Cathcart

PO9_6470What is your background?  What skills do you bring to the Richmond Food Bank board of directors?

I’m a long-time Richmond resident, elementary school teacher, and mother of two. I bring excellent organizational skills, knowledge of the school system, and the know-how of dealing with kids.

What attracted you to volunteer at the Richmond Food Bank?

I like cooking food and sharing it with my family, and I think it’s sad that there are people who can’t have the food the food they want when they want it. My family and I have a blessed life- I think it’s important to help people who are less fortunate.

What is your most memorable RFB moment?

Learning about the people of the food bank- the volunteers I work with and the directors I serve with. I’m humbled by the work they do and the time they put it.

 

Past President: Richard Rand

PO9_6452What is your background?  What skills do you bring to the Richmond Food Bank board of directors?

I’ve lived in Richmond since 1965, happily married to Karla Rand who was born in Richmond. Out of University, myself and two partners started  and owned a Ski Retail and Rental company for 10 years here in Vancouver and Whistler, sold my shares and started my Investment Advisor career with Pemberton Securities, which is now RBC Dominion Securities. I have always volunteered during my youth and adulthood, as a rare blood platelets donor with the Red Cross, the Richmond Chamber of Commerce and the Richmond School Board with their grade 11 Business students.

I believe that the skills that I utilize in my everyday management of my clients wealth, along with financial, tax and estate planning processes are directly applied into my work with the RFB board of directors.

What attracted you to volunteer at the Richmond Food Bank?

The Richmond Food Bank’s upbeat and positive staff and volunteers, and the work that we do for our neighbors in need.

What is your most memorable RFB moment?

I really enjoy the opportunities to go out and be with our Richmond partner organizations such as SUCCESS, the Tzu Chi Foundation, and the Richmond Sunrise Rotary.

 

Directors at Large:

 

Director: Mary Francis

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What is your background?  What skills do you bring to the Richmond Food Bank board of directors?

I am a retired Public Health Nurse with 32 years of experience in the community health field – 20 of those right here in Richmond. This training and experience serves to enhance and support the staff and board members’ already extensive knowledge of poverty issues as they affect general health and well-being. My previous professional associations provide a strong link to the Richmond Health Department and several other community service partners.

What attracted you to volunteer at the Richmond Food Bank?

My Public Health work gave me first-hand experience of the excellent services provided at the Richmond Food Bank so, in retirement, I wanted to continue to “work” in an environment which understood and impacted some of the key determinants of health. On a personal note, I was keen to work with such a warm, welcoming and fun group of people.

What is your most memorable RFB moment?

One day, when I happened to be alone in the front office, a well dressed young woman arrived with a large food and cash donation. As I was thanking her and helping her with the parcels, she shared that two years prior she and her husband had found themselves suddenly unemployed and struggling to care for their two young children. She described her shame and trepidation, yet desperation, at coming to the Food Bank for the first time followed by her relief and delight at how respectful the staff and volunteers were and how welcome she felt. She actually enjoyed coming in once a week for a year and she mentioned how thankful she was to have been directed to other community resources and subsidies which ultimately assisted in getting her and her husband back to work and her children into suitable child care. They were all doing well for the past year so, when she read an article in the local paper about the Food Bank and how donations were often at a low ebb in the summer months, she thought that it was a good time to drop in and say thank you for all the support – she actually said “life saving” support – that she and her family had received.

I am acutely aware that the success of this story belongs more to this resilient and capable young woman than to the Food Bank but her articulate description of her emotional journey highlights the fact that we do provide “more than just food.”

 

Director: Steve Miller

PO9_6459What is your background?  What skills do you bring to the Richmond Food Bank board of directors?

I managed a fish processing plant for 25 years which gave me years of knowledge when dealing with food inventory and sales. It also gave me connections to food processing and warehouse facilities, which have come in handy during my volunteering here.

What attracted you to volunteer at the Richmond Food Bank?

After retiring I needed to fill some time so my wife told me about the food bank as she was dealing with them with the Richmond Colt program. After hearing about the support we provide to the young mothers, I decided to help out.

What is your most memorable RFB moment?

The many social activities when we all get together and swap stories- especially the RFB Volunteers Dragon Boat team that I’ve been on for the last four years.

 

Director: Ed Montague

PO9_6464What is your background?  What skills do you bring to the Richmond Food Bank board of directors?

I lived most of my life in B.C. after his family relocated to the west coast in 1968.  I graduated from Matthew McNair Senior Secondary School in Richmond in 1977, after which I went on to Douglas College and  UBC, completing a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours in English Literature in 1981 and my law degree in 1987.  In between my two degrees, I spent two years working overseas as a volunteer teacher for CUSO (a Canadian development NGO) in Nigeria, West Africa from 1981 to 1983.  I’ve practiced as a trial lawyer since 1988, with an emphasis on personal injury, employment law, and commercial litigation, and have been with the Richmond law firm of Campbell Froh May & Rice LLP since 1993.  I’ve been involved with several professional and community organizations, including the B.C. Centre for Ability Association and Foundation, the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia, and the American Association for Justice

I first got involved with the Richmond Food Bank in early 1993, and was one of the founding board members when the Richmond Food Bank Society was officially incorporated under the B.C. Society Act on July 26, 1993.  I’ve served as a board member ever since, including a stint as President from 1998 to 2001.

What attracted you to volunteer at the Richmond Food Bank?

Every community has individuals and families who are disadvantaged, whether they be seniors or persons with disabilities on fixed incomes, single parents struggling to raise children, employees who have lost their jobs due to economic downturns, or immigrant families trying to establish a foothold in a new country.  With the high cost of living in Richmond, our community is no exception.   The Richmond Food Bank plays a critical role in providing food support to those who need it.  In my view, the Richmond Food Bank is an essential service that deserves our time and our support.

What is your most memorable RFB moment?

Given the length of time I’ve been involved with the Richmond Food Bank, it would be difficult to pin down a specific memorable moment.  There have been many, including achieving official society status, having our first Open House, relocating to our current premises, participating in the annual Salmon Festival parade in Steveston and as a member of the RFB Dragon Boat team.  Overall, I’ve consistently been impressed with the boundless energy, enthusiasm, and commitment of the food bank’s staff, board, and diverse team of volunteers.

 

Director: Heath Newman

PO9_6467What is your background?  What skills do you bring to the Richmond Food Bank board of directors?

I manage Seafair Meats, which has given me a background in management, small business ownership, food processing and sales, and customer service skills. I have a strong connection with our community, being involved with the Sunrise Rotary club. I’m happy for the chance to use these skills and connections to help our neighbours in need.

What attracted you to volunteer at the Richmond Food Bank?

The community of Richmond is good to me and my family, and it’s great to give back. I want to make our community a better place for all people, and the Richmond Food Bank helps the less fortunate, our neighbours in need.

What is your most memorable RFB moment?

Every time I visit the food bank or attend our social events, I always see people smiling- our volunteers, our staff, even the people we serve. It’s great to be a part of an organization with so many dedicated people who love being here.

 

Director: Rani Wangsawidjaya

IMG_2016What is your background?  What skills do you bring to the Richmond Food Bank board of directors?

I am a public health dietitian for Vancouver Coastal Health – Richmond Community. My strengths are in program planning and evaluations, and community development. I can provide my skills in program planning and evaluation to support new and existing programs as needed. I am also able to provide the Health Authority or other connections to ensure our agenda moves forward.

What attracted you to volunteer at the Richmond Food Bank?

The community connectedness and sense of belonging from all parties: customers, volunteers, staff, board, and external organizations that come on a regular basis. Having a sense of community is vital in ensuring we are healthy.

What is your most memorable RFB moment?

Coming over during tea or lunch time to talk and connect with people- everyone is so wonderful, and it’s a pleasure to chat with them.

 

Director: Edward Yee

IMG_2071What is your background?  What skills do you bring to the Richmond Food Bank board of directors?

I have a background in Accounting Management and been part of the financial banking industry and construction. What I bring to the board are the skills that I have  gained in each of these industries. My experience in corporate development and cost accounting will hopefully make the RFB stronger and more efficient than it already is.

What attracted you to volunteer at the Richmond Food Bank?

Being able to volunteer beside so many great people and making a difference in this city, my home and my community.

What is your most memorable RFB moment?

The first time helping on a distribution night, I saw how much the city needed this organization. The food bank helps all from young and old, welcoming the people who come through the door and not judging them. I also saw the dedication and smiles of all the people who help make the food bank run day to day, and was inspired to do more.

 

Director: Ed Zyblut

PO9_6456What is your background?  What skills do you bring to the Richmond Food Bank board of directors?

I grew up in Steveston and live in Richmond today. I worked for the Department of Fisheries as a biologist and fisheries manager. When I retired, I started volunteering with the RFB and the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. I have been a director and have served as President of both those organizations.

My background in government, fisheries, and NPOs have given me skills, experiences, and connections that have been helpful to the RFB.

What attracted you to volunteer at the Richmond Food Bank?

My wife’s friend was a RFB volunteer, and when I retired she mentioned they needed help, and that it was a great place to volunteer.

What is your most memorable RFB moment?

Our move from the No 2 Rd location to our present location on Cedarbridge Way- we did this huge move without missing one distribution day, all thanks to our volunteers’ efforts.