has been so much sadness around us these days. It seems that just when you find a ray of sunshine, a dark cloud casts another shadow.
At least that’s how I felt when I woke up to the news of Mel Boutilier’s passing on Wednesday morning. When I got to work a few hours later, there it was: the business card he gave me with his picture on it.
When I get overwhelmed by the questions or request for my time, I look down at the card, his kind, generous smile. Mel made time for everyone. I first met Mel when I moved to Halifax more than 20 years ago. About 10 years later, when I started to work at CTV, the on-air staff were asked to write a question and answer-type promo around someone who had made a difference in our lives. I kept that script from 2010.
How does Mel Boutilier inspire you? Mel Boutilier inspires me because even after volunteering for 35 years, he still treats every single person who walks through that door with dignity and respect. How did you first learn about Mel and the work that he does? I heard about Mel before I moved here. A neighbour of mine was telling how I was going to love the Maritimes, and the last thing she said was "I hope you get a chance to meet Mel Boutilier."
When you hear about someone who has volunteered for 35 years, what does that say about that person? Volunteers are remarkable people: selfless, giving, caring people. We all have busy lives but to think that someone has been giving of himself and his valuable time to help strangers for 35 years, well that is remarkable.
Most people know that Mel Boutilier is executive director of the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank, but I wonder how many know that he founded the Metro Food Bank Society (which went on to become Feed Nova Scotia) 27 years ago, and hasn't taken a paycheck since.
What do you think about the kind of work Mel is doing? I don't know if this city would be the same without Mel. He's touched so many people. People who've had to swallow their pride, walk-in here, people who were able to get back on their feet thanks to Mel.
I don’t know why I kept that, but I’m glad I did. Later that morning, as I was going over weather models and charts, I got an unexpected text message from Marnie Ells, a friend and past co-worker. The text read I just heard our friend Mel Boutilier passed. I met Mel because of you...thank you so much for that. I wish everyone had had a chance to meet Mel Boutilier. Thank you for caring so much Mel. You’re flying with angels now.
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Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network