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OUR HOMETOWN: Enthusiastic volunteer in Williams Lake

Elaine Balul enjoys helping out at the Salvation Army

You will find Elaine Balul volunteering at the Salvation Army in Williams Lake several times a week.

She helps out in the dining room, food bank and share room where she gives out fresh food to people in need.

On a Monday afternoon, minutes before she was about to open the share room, she excitedly walked to one of the stand-up fridges and opened the door.

Inside the fridge there were donations from a local grocery store - everything from packages of Brie cheese, deli sandwiches and salads.

“It’s not always like this - it depends what the stores give us,” she said, adding she was excited to be able to give it out.

The Salvation Army has agreements with the local grocery stores and it varies with what comes in.

“Today we had a bundle of french bread loaves so we divided them up into bags of two.”

Balul grew up living all across Canada, starting out in the Gaspé Peninsula.

Her dad worked in forestry, she said of why the family moved so much.

In 1990, she arrived in Williams Lake for a job with income assistance where she worked for 27 years.

She and her husband Chris raised their two children at Big Lake.

Today they have a daughter living in Vancouver who works for the Canadian Mental Health Association doing a parenting program and a son who is an electrician in Kamloops.

After living in Big Lake for 24 years the Baluls moved into town seven years ago.

Beginning in 2006 and into the following decade Balul organized the Big Bike ride in Williams Lake that fundraises for the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s mission in creating awareness and life-giving research.

She has also volunteered with emergency support services.

Balul retired from income assistance in spring 2017 and then in the fall after the wildfires settled down she began volunteering at the Salvation Army and has been there ever since.

Pointing to a box of fresh produce she would be handing out, she said she gets to know who likes red peppers and who prefers yellow ones.

“It’s actually quite neat because this food would have been thrown out by the grocery stores before and now it is going home with people.”

Making personal contact with people is a highlight of her day.

“I get to know who they are, where they are coming from, their names. This person makes soup for the elders that she knows. It’s more than just ‘have a bag of food.’”

The share room is open Monday to Friday from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

When asked if she has any hobbies she shrugged and said in the past she and her husband fostered kittens for the BCSPCA.

“I enjoy volunteering.”

READ MORE: Big Bike raises more than $16,000

READ MORE: Salvation Army ramps up for annual Christmas giving programs in Williams Lake

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

Monica Lamb-Yorski has covered news for the Williams Lake Tribune since November 2011.
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