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Clarkson transitions into new food bank role

Joan Clarkson’s smiling face has been a familiar one at the Helping Hand Food Bank in Tillsonburg for many years.

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While she did step back as a front-line coordinator in recent months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Clarkson mentored her friend, interim coordinator Brenda Fitzgerald, through that time and together they set up a system that would run smoothly and efficiently during a challenging time of physical distancing.


Clarkson is ready to take on a new role at the Helping Hand Food Bank. She will be the food bank’s new Community Relations Coordinator going forward.

“That means that I will be doing the fundraising, dealing with the public, and I will be doing whatever the Community Relations person does,” Clarkson laughed.

“I like talking to people, I have a lot of contacts in the area, and I will be the voice of the food bank,” said Clarkson, who has been successful over the years asking for donations from businesses – both large corporations and small businesses, farmers, service clubs, schools and the community as a whole. “That’s all you need to say about me…” she smiled.

“If you want something, just call me. Or if you need to know something, or if anybody in the community needs to know something, call me. I really love dealing with the different members of the community here that support the food bank.”

Clarkson, who for 20 years worked at a welfare office and volunteered 2-3 years at the hospital, was recruited locally by Marion Pratt when she came into the food bank to present a Lioness donation, has seen the public’s perception of the food bank improve over the years. People who did not initially support food banks, years ago, are now staunch supporters.

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“Once they get involved, once they see that kids are being helped, that a community that needed help is getting help, they started their own food drives, campaigns…

“Marion (Pratt) was very good, she was my mentor here, she really was.”

The Helping Hand Food Bank will be hiring a new Coordinator in the near future, as a part-time contract position.

“What would be a perfect candidate?” said Clarkson. “They have to have empathy and care about the community, and care about what’s happening. It has to appeal to someone who has the time and desire to work with people and make a better world for them.”

The new coordinator will be responsible for managing the Helping Hand Food Bank facility on Broadway and ‘be available when there are people in need,’ said Clarkson, and coordinate volunteers.

“You also buy the food, you negotiate with the stores to purchase food.”

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