The Salvation Army’s Dina Kennedy accepts a donation of 30 sleeping bags last month from Home Hardware’s Brenda Verbroom for the charity’s street outreach program. (Photo submitted)

‘What would Jesus do?’ Scott Tucker applies Christian faith to humanitarian work at home and abroad

“I try to remember that I can’t help everyone but everyone can help someone.”

Whether he’s donating 30 sleeping bags for the local Salvation Army’s street outreach program, buying sewing machines in Peru for women to start businesses or crossing the border from Colombia into Venezuela to help feed the fleeing families, Williams Lake’s Scott Tucker is a man who believes in giving back.

“I’m a person of Christian faith. I’m not necessarily the best Christian, as we all fall short, but there is that humanitarian side of that as well. You know there’s that bumper sticker, ‘what would Jesus do?’ Right? He’d help people.”

Tucker has lived in Williams Lake for the past 16 years and owns the Williams Lake Home Hardware.

“I was 16 years old when I started with Home Hardware, $5 an hour stocking spray cans in Spruce Grove.”

Read more: Spotlight on small business: Home Hardware Building Centre responds to customers’ needs

It was at a Home Hardware convention in the Dominican Republic in 2004 that Tucker was first introduced to charitable work abroad and the difference it can make, when owners and employees were asked to sign up to help the less fortunate during the convention on building projects.

That exposure prompted Tucker to purchase one-way plane tickets to Peru and a year-long sabbatical with his first wife and children where they focused on several humanitarian projects including building a small school and a dining hall for a church.

Since then Tucker has been to Peru as many as 16 times and Guatemala twice.

“I try to remember that I can’t help everyone but everyone can help someone,” Tucker said, noting many friends, customers, business owners and staff have e-transferred him money to help others during his trips.

“I’m just the vehicle, they were helping out. I just get dollars to where its needed.”

On one trip Tucker purchased and installed 100 woodburning stoves into villages to help with air quality.

“(Conditions) we wouldn’t even think is possible, they live in every day.”

On another one, he printed 5,000 copies of a brochure to hand out to children for prevention of sexual abuse.

It was his charitable work in Peru which in 2012 led him to his second wife Mayte, who was widowed with two daughters, and who volunteered at a local church.

“It didn’t hurt that she’s a really beautiful lady. She’s beautiful inside and outside.”

The two were engaged in 2016 and now live in Williams Lake with their daughters. Mayte also carries out her own charitable work, volunteering five days per week in the Salvation Army kitchen.

Tucker is humble and mostly upbeat as he discusses the many worthwhile projects from behind his desk at work, where thank you cards are pinned on the walls from various non-profit agencies, the most recent a note of thanks penned for donating sleeping bags for people living on the streets in Williams Lake.

Read more: Williams Lake’s Home Hardware moulds its business model to the needs of the Cariboo

He continues to be deeply moved by the dire situation in Venezuela, which he and Mayte witnessed firsthand in 2018.

“We’d see a mom and little kids on the side of the road and we’d stop and give them some food and as we’re driving away they go to the side and start eating right away. You don’t do that unless you’re starving,” he said, pausing to collect himself.

“Women are selling their hair for $2 to buy expired medications. It’s just a tragedy that’s happening.”

Tucker also believes in helping out ‘in our own backyard’ and is a member of the local Rotary club, donates to the Starfish Program and every year challenges other business owners in town to sponsor events such as the recent Yuletide Dinner.

“We do it in fun,” he said of the challenge.

“Williams Lake has been good to us, so do I need a new jet boat or can I spend that money on some sleeping bags, some diapers or bananas for some people.”

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