Harvest House Food Bank founder Lynn Morrison honoured

Long-time Chemainus volunteer Lynn Morrison received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal on Dec. 17.

Lynn Morrison of Chemainus

Lynn Morrison received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal at a ceremony Dec. 17 in Duncan  in recognition of her founding role with the Chemainus Harvest House Food Bank.

Morrison, who was nominated for the award in October by longtime friends Diana MacTavish and John Silins, said public recognition for her work is “embarrassing,” but appreciated nonetheless.

“I did it because I loved it,” Morrison said in reference to her volunteerism, “but it makes it that much more special when you get recognized by your own community for what you’ve done, because sometimes there were sacrifices — for my husband, my family. When you’re an avid volunteer who is in a leadership role, your family does suffer. They also have to give a lot. There’s only so many hours in a day”

Morrison said she worked longer hours and learned far more while volunteering than she would have at any paid position she’s held in the past, adding that it taught her a great deal regarding what’s truly meaningful in life.

“I’m just sad I can’t do it so much anymore,” Morrison said, “but I do what I can.”

Morrison’s affinity for community service is tied to her immersion in volunteerism as a child. Born and raised in Chemainus, Morrison said her parents were “huge volunteers.” Her mother and father helped build the Chemainus Community Centre and it later became their home while her parents served as the centre’s caretakers.

Coaching local sports teams was another means her parents used to show their gratitude to a community that had supported their athletic pursuits.

“My mom was a triple-A ball player,” Morrison said, “and my dad was semi-pro. They travelled all over playing ball.”

In turn, her father coached baseball and her mother coached softball for years as a way to give back.

“They always taught me that that’s what you do,” Morrison said. “A community is only as good as those who participate in it.”

At 19, Morrison was sent by the Rotary Club to a leadership conference held at Pacific Lutheran University in Washington State. She came away from the conference a changed person, she said, fueled by an awareness of how she could make a difference.

She started coaching ball and later volunteered with the Girl Guides, convincing her sister to lend a hand. Those were the early years of a service career that neither marriage nor motherhood would derail.

“I can remember standing on first base coaching my team with my first baby strapped to my chest in a carry-all,” Morrison said.

Years later, Morrison participated in a food drive in Chemainus to mark National Children’s Day. All of the food they received that first year was sent to the Basket Society in Duncan, Morrison said, because there was nowhere in Chemainus to bring it.

Morrison recognized how difficult it would be for needy Chemainus residents to travel to and from Duncan, especially parents with young children.

“You got on a bus and it took you most of the day to get to Duncan and back,” she said.

Morrison sat down with Alison White and Mary Dolan to discuss solutions, and the idea of a Chemainus food bank was born.

Morrison travelled to food banks located throughout Vancouver Island to discuss strategy with managers. She then approached Bob Hermanson of the Ladysmith Lions Club to ask if the Lions might consider backing a food bank in Chemainus. The Ladysmith Lions agreed, and in October 2000, Chemainus’ first food bank opened its doors.

“When we first opened,” Morrison said, “we served 15 people. By the time I retired, we served 150 per week.”

In recent years, Morrison has been forced to limit her volunteer efforts because she has difficulty breathing. Lung damage resulting from a pair of near-fatal bacterial lung infections, compounded by COPD and the successful treatment of a tumour in one of her lungs, has left Morrison dependent on supplemental oxygen.

“I couldn’t walk to the end of a street,” Morrison said. “There’s no way. But I have a scooter and my scooter helps a lot.”

She continues to volunteer, but limits herself to work she can do from home or to errands she can run on her scooter.

Diana MacTavish “thought it would be nice” to see Morrison acknowledged for her contributions to the community of Chemainus.

“Lynn was instrumental in setting up Harvest House,” MacTavish said. “For a number of years, Lynn was the magic behind it continuing. If it weren’t for Lynn, there wouldn’t be a food bank in Chemainus today.”

MacTavish said Morrison “did everything,” including soliciting funds from public and corporate sponsors, rallying volunteers, purchasing food, arranging schedules and paying the bills.

“She was Harvest House,” MacTavish added.

According to the Governor General of Canada’s website, the QE II Diamond Jubilee Medal was created to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and it “serves to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.”

Morrison received her award from Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder at a ceremony held Mon, Dec. 17 at the Island Savings Centre in Duncan.

Just Posted

Caps fall to Clippers in Nanaimo on Friday night

Clippers’ tying and winning goals come in less than a minute

Cowichan school district approves women’s winter shelter

The Cowichan Valley School District’s board of education has approved in principle… Continue reading

North Cowichan is Canada’s hot spot on Wednesday

The Warmland lives up to its name

Ladysmith Secondary School improv still groovy after 20 years

Catch performances Nov. 15th, 16th, 17th and 22nd, 23rd and 24th

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

Most Read