Dave Mouland wishes the phone would ring at his Weston home one morning and he’d be given some fateful news.
"’You’ve just been fired…’ Winnipeg Harvest saying ‘don’t come in again, because you’re not needed. Everyone (has) food.’"
It’s a nice thought, but not a likely scenario, Mouland admits.
So until then, he’ll keep answering the phones at Winnipeg Harvest’s call centre, and on April 24 be recognized for that — and much more— when he receives a Premier’s Volunteer Service Award at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.
About 30 people will be recognized at Volunteer Manitoba’s awards ceremony dinner. Winnipeg’s mayor and the province’s lieutenant-governor and premier will be there, but Mouland says he wishes some of the people who call him every day at Harvest could also be there.
"Some who have probably never been waited on in their life, you know?"
Mouland, who has volunteered at the food bank about 20 hours a week for five years, was nominated for the award by
Donald Benham, Harvest’s director of hunger and poverty awareness.
"Dave is on the front lines answering phone calls," said Benham, "he’s also very committed to ending the need for food banks."
Benham credits Mouland with being a representative for Harvest in dealing with agencies over issues that affect the poor. He said Mouland led a strong fight against the 20-cent bus fare hike last year, appearing before city councillors several times.
"And he won," Benham says.
He’s also worked against hydro rate increases and appeared on behalf of Harvest at fundraisers and speaking engagements.
"He can stand up and talk for an hour and a half about hunger and poverty."
Mouland himself is no stranger to the challenges of poverty.
"My income now, this last year, was a little over $8,000…that’s typical," said the retired 64-year-old.
His pension was slashed 30% because he took it five years early, a loss he says can never be recouped.
But he gets by, and points out that many who call Harvest each day are worse off. Their needs sometimes extend beyond food into issues like housing, health care, and employment.
Whatever the need, Mouland says he’s trained to point them in the right direction.
Even something like transportation to a food bank can be an issue for people. After his time advocating on transit issues, Mouland has some simple advice: if you’re in need you don’t have to pay.
"Bus drivers cannot refuse to take a passenger if they’re coming down to Harvest," Mouland says, adding it’s no different than if a person is in any kind of life-threatening situation.
"If you don’t have any food then your life is in danger…drivers cannot refuse."