December 04, 2012 - 3:11 PM
A Penticton woman spent most of her career helping to feed the hungry and will be honoured for her lifetime effort with a Queen's Diamond Jubilee Award.
Christine Simmons started working for the Salvation Army Food Bank almost 20 years ago and says her job is very close to her heart because it speaks both to her own life experiences and her faith.
In the early years of her marriage Simmons was unable to find work and she and her husband took care of two children on one income, so living on little money with a family to feed is something she understands.
"There were times when we had to choose between rent, utilities and groceries, but you need a roof over your head," she says. "It was a big deal when there was enough money left over for hot dogs. That was a big treat."
She feels for families trying hard to provide a healthy diet for their children, but says it's not always possible. She can remember when her family survived on oatmeal and bread, or when Kraft dinner was the main dish served at the dinner table.
"People struggle to provide a good home and good food for their children," says Simmons. "We see this a lot."
Christine Simmons was nominated for the award by co-workers for a lifetime of giving under the wider umbrella of Food Banks Canada.
The national organization represents food banks and addressing hunger in Canada and was selected by the Governor General of Canada David Johnston to be a partner among a select group of non-governmental organizations in awarding 33 medals to recognize volunteers and employees of food banks who have built and continue to build a caring society and country through their service, contribution and achievements.
Nominees are from every region of the country and each community will host ceremonies for their local recipient to award them with a medal in front of friends, families and colleagues.
Simmons is very humble about the attention she's receiving. She's looking forward to receiving the award but for her, it's business as usual.
"I feel honoured to be amongst a group of people chosen for this award," says Simmons. "But it's not something I went looking for, and I'm not sure how much it will change my life or the work I do."
Simmons 20-year career with the Salvation Army began in Terrace, B.C. where she and her husband set up the food bank and later a thrift store to serve the community. She moved to Penticton a couple years later.
When asked about her career before the Salvation army she talked about working in an office setting and various other jobs she's had, then shared a moment of clarity upon realizing her very first job at age 18 was with the Salvation Army in downtown Toronto.
"It's an odd thing, that my first job was with the Salvation Army and now, very likely, my last job is with them," she said.
But she says she was initially drawn to the organization because it's first and foremost a Christian church and she was raised in the faith, so it's maybe not so strange after all that she would find herself completing a circle.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2012