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The Journal's Exceptional People of the Week: Carol Whitson and Sue Mathany

Cathy Dobson Ensuring the shelves are full at Corunna’s food bank is a full time job these days. Demand has doubled in the past year and so has the work.
Carol and Sue
Carol Whitson, left, and Sue Mathany use space among the pews to sort cans and boxes for the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church food bank in Corunna (Cathy Dobson photo).

Cathy Dobson

Ensuring the shelves are full at Corunna’s food bank is a full time job these days. Demand has doubled in the past year and so has the work.

But Carol Whitson and Sue Mathany each enthusiastically volunteer 40 hours a week and are passionate about helping the growing number of families who need food.

That’s what makes them the Journal’s Exceptional People of the Week.

Carol and Sue are quick to say they are part of a team of volunteers and the food bank couldn’t function without everyone pitching in.  But Pastor Doug Gillard of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church – where the food bank is located – says the two women deserve special credit.

 “These are two incredible ladies who dedicate hours upon hours to do the inventory, sort the food, stock the shelves, and make sure there’s enough to meet the need,” said Pastor Gillard.

“The amount of actual physical time they spend at our food bank is astonishing, and it’s because we’ve got so many clients this year.”

Carol sorts food in the freezer (Cathy Dobson photo)

Carol, a retired dog handler at Canada Customs, has volunteered at the food bank for the past 10 years. It’s the only food bank in Corunna, a community with a population hovering around 5,000. Historically, Corunna didn’t have a lot of demand for a food bank. However, an average of 10 families are now using it weekly, requiring food for 50 or more.

In her early days at the food bank, Carol rarely saw the clients. Instead, she and Sue spent their time organizing food supplies. 

But that changed as the pandemic wore on and volunteers became more difficult to get. Yet more people needed food, so the two women stepped up.

Carol and Sue now interact routinely with the families. They know everyone by name.

“We just have that kind of relationship,” said Carol.  “We talk to them, ask them how their day is going, good and bad. We hear about their ups and downs and let them know we care.

“We want them to feel comfortable and we want them to come back if they need to.”

Many clients have jobs but need the food bank if a big expense comes along like a car repair or dental bill.  Others lost their jobs during the pandemic or had adult children and grandchildren move in, stretching their budgets too far.

Carol said she was raised to give back to her community and she realizes how fortunate she is. So when the food bank needs help, she and Sue do what needs to be done. 

“The clients are so appreciative,” Carol said.  “And they always say thank you.  But what they don’t realize is the difference they make to us.

“I work all day there and go home and feel I’ve made a difference.”

Donations to the St. Andrew’s food bank are generous, said Pastor Gillard.   Local schools and churches donate regularly and make sure supplies don’t dwindle.

The St. Andrew’s congregation strongly supports its food bank with food, financial donations and volunteer time, Carol added.

Every week, Carol and Sue use donated funds to buy fresh staples for the families registered at the food bank.

“We are fortunate to have exceptional volunteers like Carol and Sue and the others who help out at the food bank,” said Pastor Gillard. 

“The food bank is our outreach, started by a fellow in our congregation who just wanted to have a little food available in case of an emergency.

“It’s now grown exponentially and these ladies help make it possible.”

The Corunna food bank at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 437 Colborne Dr., Corunna is open Wednesday nights 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.; and Thursdays 9 a.m. – noon.

If you know of someone in our community you believe is exceptional, send their name and contact information to [email protected].    





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