It has been almost a year since the St. Albert Food Bank moved to its new home on Bellerose Drive and continued growing. The numerous changes include new warehouse shelving, donated walk-in refrigerator and freezer units and still developing office space.
That space will soon be fully equipped with laundry and shower facilities for those who don’t have access to their own. Along with that there will also be a functional and instructional community kitchen, but the office itself is already open for business with a new name: the St. Albert Community Village. While the construction work continues, there is already a very popular feature that is up and running — community liaison worker Fay Lucy. She comes from a background of social work, was recently the senior program co-ordinator at the Edmonton Food Bank and is the best friend that you didn’t know that you had.
She began work in mid-January and found it didn’t take long for her days to fill up with new clients. Those struggling with anything including finances, employment, family, physical or psychological health, legal issues or anything else, can call her. Lucy stands at the nexus of social support programs and services and knows where to direct people, even those with multiple issues.
As the food bank’s executive director Suzan Krecsy explained, the agency is constantly striving to improve its services, even seeking out the very roots of the circumstances that surround its clients. It is now one of the few in the province to offer this kind of help.
“The reason the Community Village was started was to address the underlying issues of what brings the people in to the food bank,” she said. Getting someone in the liaison position has long been a goal of hers but she didn’t realize the extent to which Lucy would be in demand. “I didn’t think we’d be this busy this quickly.”
The liaison is available each weekday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and every day sees a full schedule of people to help with a wide range of problems that can be complex.
Lucy said it is those people that need to reach out to her. She said the first step is to talk about the situation.
“They might feel that there is no hope but they’re not hopeless,” she explained, saying that she deals with the big picture first. “If you had 10 problems and you don’t feel that you have anywhere to go, where would you start? Here they are and maybe [they’ve got] sexual abuse happening but then there’s a legal issue and then there’s children not adjusting in school, plus they could be getting evicted, and there are money issues. You’ve got some huge issues. Where do you get started? That’s where their hopelessness might come in because they don’t know where to start.”
She referred to her work not as a one-stop shop but as the hub of a wheel with all of the spokes connected outward.
The community in St. Albert is very supportive. There’s a great network and that’s the only way an organization can provide support in complex situations. No one person can deal with it all. The location of the best support and information has to be considered.
Lucy strongly urges people who would like to meet with her to first schedule an appointment by calling 780-459-0585 or by email at [email protected] Her services are free and confidential.
In the meantime, Krecsy is looking for a specialist to help with the venting required in the community kitchen. She hopes to have that area complete and operational within the next month or two.