Sylvia Massey, above, is the centre of attention at a reception in her honour. Right, a cake for Massey says it all. (Photos by Don Bodger)

Massey’s volunteer spirit unprecedented

Longtime work with the Chemainus Harvest House Food Bank appreciated by the community

Sylvia Massey’s commitment to the Chemainus Harvest House Food Bank will never go unnoticed or underappreciated.

Several people from the community and other food bank volunteers gathered for a special celebration last Tuesday at the Chemainus United Church to honour Massey’s incredible dedication and many years of hard work.

“Let me tell you, it’s a fulltime job,” said Harvest House acting chair Jan Aikman, who took over from Massey. “You leave very big shoes to fill.”

Darla Maloney, Diane Smith and Gail Matthews were full of praise for Massey. Maloney has been with the food bank since its inception in 2002 and the three women have a combined 46 years of service.

“It was always a hoot to work with her,” said Smith.

And in Massey’s case, “good things come in small packages,” she added.

Massey’s longtime friend Shelagh Armour-Godbolt, who no longer lives in Chemainus, spoke about her affiliations with her going back to their days in the medical profession at Queen’s Park Hospital in New Westminster.

Armour-Godbolt talked about Massey’s inauguration into the food bank that lasted a lot longer than the initial two weeks planned.

“Sylvia has a problem,” joked Armour-Godbolt. “She doesn’t read calendars well and her two weeks were extended.”

Community members Massey worked with spoke about her ever-present energy and willingness to help others.

“Three years ago I met Sylvia,” said 49th Parallel Grocery Chemainus store manager Paul McGregor. “She came in to get the bread to help the community and with a big smile on her face.”

“It’s been a pleasure working with Sylvia,” said Arlene Robinson of the Cowichan Neighbourhood House in Chemainus. “She’s one of those people who comes from the heart and goes and goes and doesn’t expect back.”

Emails were also read from people unable to attend but wanting to express their appreciation to Massey.

“We’ve enjoyed working with Sylvia for a long time and have come to know her as a friend as well as an amazing, dedicated person in her endeavours with the Harvest House Food Bank,” wrote Irene and Wayne Ananny.

From Julie Tremblay: “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve our community. You never know when you’ve made a difference for someone. Sometimes it’s not always about the groceries. It may be that time you made them smile when they didn’t think they could or never made them feel less than or hopeless. Recipient or volunteer, you were an important role for many.”

Tea, fruits and vegetables and cake were enjoyed by everyone in attendance with Massey.

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Sylvia Massey is surrounded by her admirers. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Sylvia Massey’s cake. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Jan Aikman, acting chair of the Harvest House Food Bank, reads some emails from well-wishers during a reception honouring Sylvia Massey. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Many people enjoyed catching up to Sylvia Massey after a long time. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Sylvia Massey cuts her ceremonial cake, accompanied by Jan Aikman. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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