Becky Schille, right, director of The Olive Tree, hosted the Monday lunch of the Rotary Club of Lloydminster and lead one of three group tours of the new facility starting in the commercial kitchen where the meal was made. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO
Rotary Club of Lloydminster members toured The Olive Tree on full stomachs just as the staff and volunteers there strive to do for the less fortunate.
The non-profit charity provides free community meals, a mom’s group, school food support, seniors’ luncheons, and a food rescue program from its new location at the former United Furniture Warehouse at 5002-51 Avenue.
Staff and volunteers will be hosting their annual Christmas community meal on Dec. 22 from 5-6 p.m. for 100 to 125 guests in the dining hall of the renovated building, where the rotary lunch meeting and tours began.
The Olive Tree director, Becky Schille, said it was exciting to host the rotary members on Monday.
“We like spending time with them and it was wonderful to have them in our own home,” she said after acting as one of the tour guides.
“Sometimes telling people what you’re doing is completely different than showing them, so it was nice to give them an insight on all the things that we do each day.”
To describe all of the rooms at The Olive Tree in a nutshell, Schille said the facility is kind of divided in half.
“The east side is our thrift store and farmer’s market space and the west side is our food rescue programs,” said Schille.
The event was also an opportunity for Rotarians to meet Jana Letts, assistant executive director of The Olive Tree, who also led a group tour.
It was her first day on the job and she enjoyed showing off the facility to her party of sightseers.
“It’s fun to just jump in; it’s an amazing group to work with, so I was very thankful to be able to do it with rotary,” said Lett.
Lett also talked briefly about her role with The Olive Tree.
“I will be doing grant writing; I will be coordinating the volunteer data base and be the manager of the Farmer’s Market,” she said.
Schille said not surprisingly, the demand for The Olive Tree’s services is much greater in December than the rest of the year.
“We get a lot more phones calls and a lot more requests for food, but outside of Christmas, I would say the demand is about the same,” she said.
Lett added there is always a need for more donations of food and different drives at this time of year.
“We are so thankful to the community to come along side us and support us as we do Christmas hampers and all the other stuff,” she said.
Looking ahead to 2018, Schille said staff and volunteers just want to continue to settle into the new space and “kind of perfect” the programs they are already doing.
“We have a couple of new things that we are talking about doing, but we’ll see if grants come in,” said Schille.
In response to a question from Rotarians, Schille reported they reached their $500,000 capital fundraising goal for the renovation of the building this past summer.
“Thanks to an anonymous donation, we will be doing the outside of the building in the spring,” said Schille.
“This is a very giving community—we were just so thankful that it came in as it did and we were able to complete the project so quickly.”