Executive Director of the Food Bank - listening and serving the needs of people who need help.

background graphic redBy Pepper Parr

September 12th, 2020


Part 1 of a series

I met an interesting man last week.

In his mid-twenties he was a youth pastor and then moved on to become a church planter.

Church planting is work that is driven by faith. The objective is to plant a new church in a new community.

They start out meeting in private homes with just a few people and over time build that group to the point where they need space and rent a school gymnasium or a store front.

The men (there are some women who are church planters) do not get a salary – they have to find people who will sponsor them in the work they are doing. The denomination he was working with had provided the sponsors.

For people of faith this is indeed a calling.

Bailey H&S with logo

For Robin Bailey getting to the job he has now tested his resolve and his faith.

The man I was sitting across a table from was in a different job now. Getting to the job he has now was tested his resolve and his faith.

At one point in his church planting career, in early 2008, before the recession took hold, he took some time off to travel to Ethiopia to pick up the three year old boy he and his wife adopted. Judah was another expression of their faith.

Upon his return from Ethiopia the church planter was told that there was no longer a job for him, the sponsorship money had dried up.

Optimistic by nature the young man went looking for work. This was 2008 -09; not a time to go looking for work – there wasn’t much to be had. Bailey came out of the prairies where hard luck and hard times were just part of what life is.

There was a job offer – but that fell through. The little money they had was running out.

There was still no work. Food Banks and Employment Insurance were the resources he had to turn to. His application for Employment Insurance was turned down.

He was told he could appeal – which he did.

“I sat in my chair at the appeal and watched while one of the men being paid to listen to the appeal fell asleep.

Bailey quizical look

Robin Bailey, Executive Director of the Burlington Food Bank during one of his daily podcasts.

“I sat in my car after the appeal hearing, feeling like a failure. I could not get work, I could not provide for my family. There just didn’t seem to be a way out.

“That was the day” said Robin Bailey “that I learned what human dignity really meant –“mine was taken away from me that morning”.

Shortly after Robin got a job with the Salvation Army where he spent seven and a half years.

For a short period of time after that he tried his hand at sales and customer relations – it wasn’t work that was feeding his soul.

A friend told him about the Food Bank – he applied just over three years ago and has been there ever since: listening and serving the needs of people who need help.

He has walked in those shoes.

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