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What’s in a Meal – People of Campbell River Part 5

In celebration of Giving Tuesday Canada, Destination Campbell River partnered with Erin Wallis – local photographer, story-teller and all-around good “Riverite” herself – to highlight some of Campbell River’s unsung heroes. Here is installment 5 of 5, to make your heart smile and think about the world in a different light.

 

ERIN WALLIS;

I have to close out this series with a woman who is sure to leave a mark on you.
Krisandra Rufus.  This woman.  She’s a force.  A warrior.  If you live in Campbell River and haven’t heard of her or her organization Grassroots Kind Hearts Society, you will be amazed at her and what she has started and organizes on the daily.

In October 2014 Krisandra had members of her own family on the streets.  Her nephew called from the streets and was hungry, they made extra and delivered food to him.  He called an hour later, asking for a friend who was also hungry on the streets.  She realized no one was feeding these people.  She started feeding the homeless on weekends, then moved to Monday to Friday and for the past year has fed Campbell Rivers homeless and less fortunate every single night of the week, every day of the year.  Stop for a moment and think about that.  At times I struggle to even think what to make or how to make my own family dinner.

 

Krisandra Rufus

In the beginning she funded these meals entirely herself.  She then realized the costs were more than she could harbour herself and started doing a little fundraising.  For the past year, every single day she and her small organization feed up to 60 people a night.  These are people that wouldn’t have food without her.  These people are homeless, low income housing families with children who Krisandra not only feeds, but welcomes.  People of all ages and all walks of life, all with stories.  They have a family with a baby who regularly comes to their nightly dinners.  It’s hard to think about, but many of these families would be starving without her.

Lately Grassroots Kind Hearts Society has gotten a bit of media attention and gratefully receives donations from Quality Foods, Steiners Bakery, Perks Donuts, Chang Rai Noodle House, who donates a dish a month, the Vineyard and St.Patricks Church cook and serve one day a month, and a few others have gotten wind of her mission and have come down a night or more to help her serve or bring dishes. Grassroots Kinda Hearts Society gratefully accepts donations for the cause.  She is so grateful for the help and support she receives.

She lives in a small townhouse with her 6 children, daily living the example of giving to others. I can’t help, but think of the hours of her life she has devoted to feeding people.  She has been a cook for the Campbell River Family services for the past 14 years and has always fed people but, this act of selfless service is what makes her a hero of mine.  When I asked her why she does it she says “everyone needs to eat, everyone deserves to eat.”  We are not talking about a sandwich and a piece of fruit, which was at one time suggested instead of her program.  “No, that is not a meal.  That is not dinner.”  In 2015 Krisandra lost 4 members of her family out on the streets.  She knew she had to do this every day.  Krisandra says “I sleep better knowing they have something in their tummy.  I’ve been able to sleep better since doing this.”  I asked her about the struggles of her undertaking, the logistics, the rules and she said “its been a hell of a ride, but I’ve got to just keep smiling and doing what I’m doing.”  She currently serves dinner every night at 5:00 in behind the firehall (where this photo is taken). In a small fenced off area.  I was actually a bit shocked to see where she was doing it.  Their dinner area has an outhouse and a big garbage bin in about 100 square feet with an metal fence around it.  In all weather, they serve dinner.  They are currently seeking an indoor location to serve dinners out of, but it has proven to be difficult to lock down a spot.  If you have somewhere downtown that can be of service to Krisandra and her cause, please join the facebook group Grassroots Kind Hearts Society or contact Krisandra Ruffus directly, on facebook.

You can tell she has been through a lot, has the strength of a thousand warriors to carry on doing what she is doing every single day.  As much as she receives support, she is still the one that is there all the time, 365 days a year.  I hope to shine a little spotlight on her cause and I truly hope that something positive will come from sharing a bit of her story.  She is an absolutely remarkable human and when I asked if she had anything else she wanted to say or add she just said “thank you, for the support”.  They are always looking for donations, but currently are in need of hot chocolate, coffee whitener, sugar and spices, disposable plates, bowls and cutlery.  Donations are always welcome.  Please help this inspiring woman carry on doing a job that no one else does, and perhaps we can collectively make her load a little lighter to bear.  

Erin, “In my experience, once you seek out and focus on the spirit of giving, you may start to see it all around you. Which can’t be a bad thing.  I hope one, any or all of these stories warm your heart in some way, and if any of them speak to you… perhaps they might just inspire you to do something remarkable this coming year.” 

It would be a huge oversight not to give honourable mention to the author and storyteller, Erin, who’s own contribution to the community includes supporting the local Cystic Fibrosis chapter and the Brind A’mour Golf Tourney.