Cranbrook Photographer Damien Vincent recently donated over $5,000 to the Cranbrook Food Bank through his Front Porch Family Photo project.
Vincent says he was inspired by similar projects he saw online and was happy it was so successful.
“I first saw the project circulating online, and then when I saw how successful the Kimberley project was, I thought that I had to jump on the bad wagon; what a good cause,” said Vincent. “I advertised on Facebook and once the first photo session was complete I had a lot of positive response. It sort of took off from there and I was able to photograph 160 families over three weeks.”
Vincent completed the project outside of his day-job, using his spare time to photograph families, edit the photos and take donations.
Vincent’s assistant, Kendall Brehm explained that a total of $5,125 was raised for the Food Bank. The Dollar Tree also donated three laundry baskets full of food.
“Everyone was really supportive of the idea and most people were so generous with the donations,” said Brehm. “Damien asked for a minimum donation of $10, but so many people donated $30, $40, $50 or even $100. The community responded so well.”
Vincent explained that he enjoyed the process as much as the families did.
“You know, nothing like this [COVID-19] has ever really happened to us before. People were excited to get out and dress up, but also support a good cause. Plus, they get a nice family portrait in a time that has been challenging,” he said.
Vincent adds that he’s proud of the community for coming together and raising such a large sum of money for the Cranbrook Food Bank.
“It was really exciting. I can’t even explain it, I’m just so proud of the community for coming together and being so supportive,” he said. “When I delivered the cheque to the Food Bank they were so appreciative. They asked me if they could use the money to go towards the new building that they hope to get and of course I agreed. A larger facility would be better for everyone involved, I’m just happy to help in any way I can.”
Gerry Oviatt, President of the Cranbrook Food Bank Society, says that the Food Bank wasn’t really expecting such a large donation and that they are grateful for the community support.
“We haven’t secured anything yet in terms of a building, but we are working on it. Our plan, most certainly, for the future is to have a location in the industrial park area. Damien was happy to let us use the money towards that,” Oviatt said, adding that the Food Bank currently operates out of two separate locations, making logistics challenging.
“We have a warehouse already, and of course the location downtown. But that main location is an old house, it was built in 1924 and it has some issues. So that’s kind of why we need a new space, but also to have everything under one roof instead of loading everything back and forth would be really helpful.”
The coronavirus pandemic has shed light on the importance of food systems, especially in small communities, with so many people relying on their services. Oviatt says it presented them with challenges, but again, the community rallied together to help those in need. He says that one of the major challenges was the age of their regular volunteers.
“We had and still have quite a few older volunteers and we didn’t want to expose them or put them at risk. We want to keep everyone, our clients and volunteers, safe. The virus really threw a wrench into things, and now we’re trying to take the steps to get things back to as normal as possible,” he said. “We had so many people in such a small area so we had to make some major adjustments. About 90 per cent of our hampers were being delivered and thankfully we had so many people come forward to help. We have have students volunteering, as well as people who were out of work, or working less. They helped a lot with the delivery. We’d put the hampers together and set them outside, so the drivers could just pick them up and drop them off outside of the address.”
There are still some kinks to deal with, and the purchase of a new building is a process, but overall Oviatt says the Food Bank is grateful for the support of the community.
“We’ve always had so much support from the community in so many ways and we’re thankful for that. I hope we can get back to a more normal existence here. It’s been hard to deal with, but we’re doing the best we can.”
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