The first time Patti Larson was to step onto the stage at the Holiday Train food bank fundraiser, she was pushed.
Her boss Jane McNab knew she was nervous and gave her that extra encouragement.
“Jane believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself,” Larson said.
In her resume, Larson submitted to become the food bank coordinator 20 years ago, she said her goal was to work in an organized, efficient manner and provide quality service to all clients.
Since then, Larson said she accomplished that, and so much more.
Sheena Bell, current executive director for Community Connections, said she has never heard Larson complain about work.
Larson is a blend of steady, modest, professional and available, Bell said.
“What you see is what you get. She puts people first.”
Larson’s application all those years ago was accepted by NcNab and together they launched the Community Connection’s Food Bank.
Prior to that there had been no permanent food bank in Revelstoke. Larson had volunteered at a temporary facility from 1986 to 1988 that served families who had been impacted by mill layoffs.
Larson was in her 40s when she applied for the food bank job, after working for decades at TD Bank.
Last year, in the Review’s feature story for the Women of Inspiration special section, Larson said it was difficult changing careers at that age, but banking was no longer a good fit.
At first, her new job was only 20 hours a week, with food distribution once a month. Now the community outreach team is up to nine people and food pick up is twice a week.
Since the start of the pandemic, demand at the food bank has tripled.
But Larson wasn’t just expanding the food bank while at Community Connections.
“The side of her desk is the biggest part,” Bell said.
Larson established the health and safety committee, helped write policies and was a big part of the organizational culture, Bell said.
She was a part of the executive leadership team that the society appointed in 2015, rather than having a single executive director.
Along with the food bank, she launched the Christmas Hamper program, which has been going for 20 years.
Bell said that Larson knows and supports every program at Community Connections.
Larson also had the largest group of volunteers. Bell said it’s because Larson treated everyone like they belonged and had something to offer.
Brenda Butcher, a long-time volunteer at the food bank, said Larson is a beautiful lady. Butcher hasn’t been back to volunteer since the start of COVID but said she misses seeing people and laughing.
“She is going to be missed,” Butcher said of Larson’s retirement.
Though the food bank was Larson’s passion project for years, she is happy to pass on the reins and confident those who are taking over will do a good job.
Larson said she will miss the people but not the middle-of-the-night fire alarm calls.
And, as a volunteer, she will return.