Gillies Malnarich, Greater Vancouver Food Bank Volunteer

A seasoned professor who has travelled all over North America before she retired, Gillies takes pride in volunteering at the Food Bank.

The first time Gillies volunteered with us was when her mother passed away in 2019. Gillies thought, “I’ll take the time that I used to spend with her, and I will give that to the Food Bank.” Gillies has been volunteering ever since.

Gillies has spent most of her life helping others. Most notably she worked in Canada to help adults return to learning, and support them to become successful students in college. As a result of her dedicated work in the industry, Gillies was invited to Washington State in the US to set up new adult education programs, and to head up a public service centre at Evergreen State College. “I was invited three times,” Gillies recalls, “and the third time I thought, ‘Well, I’d better go’”.

Gillies’ life-long experience working with the public is part of what makes her one of our superstar Development volunteers. Her kindness is contagious, and she walks into the office for every shift with a huge smile on her face, ready to answer client inquiry calls and emails, take donation calls, and enter donations into our database.

After working in an industry where she used her innovation and creativity to improve and build programs, Gillies commented on the food bank’s innovations: “I loved meeting people who were so leading edge, and as an educator this is what I like about the food bank, too. I feel like I am volunteering at a place that’s trying to put into practice the very best that’s known about access to nutritious food.”

When asked about her experience volunteering at the Food Bank, she said: “During COVID, I would say that the Food Bank has really risen to the challenge of what you have put in place, with all kinds of procedures so the clients feel safe, people working here feel safe, and the volunteers feel safe; all of that’s been done so I’ve been even more impressed than I was initially!”

Many Food Bank donors are seniors. Sometimes we receive donation cheques with a hand written note attached. Gillies, being the lucky one to open the mail, said that one of these notes brought “tears to her eyes”. It was a thank you note written by a person with faltering hands, and it reminded Gillies of her father’s mother, Maria. Maria was a generous soul, and that was a special moment for Gillies to remember her Grandmother.

Gillies encourages anyone who can spare the time to volunteer at the Food Bank. If you would like to get started, please go to this link for more information.

We hope to meet you soon!