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LETTER: The constant growth of the Harvest thrift store and food bank

“we now serve the complete Northern end of Vancouver Island – everyone North of Woss!”

Dear Editor: July 18, 2019

I left the busy city life behind and came to this little town of Port Hardy with a dream of building a small island resort to give poor city kids a chance to connect with nature in a way that might change their whole attitude about life… like it did for me. After years of effort and isolation, I found out that my original intention had been twisted into building a world class diving resort and nothing else. I found myself standing in front of the clock tower, discouraged (and a little bitter), questioning why I had given up my life in Germany when a beautiful young lady (Natasha) and a friendly young man (Pierre) approached with their own dream – to open a thrift store and food bank in the basement next door (now the Book Nook at Guido’s).

I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. Nowhere in my past had I heard about or imagined a place where recycled clothes and furniture would raise money to supply food for the needy! I was inspired to pitch in and help. Home Hardware donated some paint and brushes and pretty soon we were all (Natasha, Pierre, the two sons, Jean, Roberta and me) cleaning out cobwebs, setting up shelves and bringing the dream into reality. I went back to finishing the diving resort with my confidence restored.

Over the following years I was astounded at the constant growth of the Harvest thrift store and food bank. From a “rustic” basement with Natasha playing an ancient upright piano while tourists poked through donated “treasures”, it moved across the street into the automotive parts building and grew from a handful of people into dozens of volunteers and hundreds (if not thousands) of donors. I finished my work at the diving resort and moved into town to marry my husband Blair, and now, almost thirty years later I am volunteering at the thrift store, along with Andy, Pat and Penny, Arthur, Astrid, Travis, and Danny, as well as the entire food bank crew. From a small, local enterprise we now serve the complete Northern end of Vancouver Island – everyone North of Woss!

Our latest challenge is to replace the leaky roof(really expensive) but I have faith that the same community that created and supported the original project will find a way to fix it. I have already talked my husband into organizing a Christmas Music Festival to raise money. The success of Natasha’s vision has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Karla Hamilton,

Port Hardy

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