It’s in times of crisis that a community shows its strength and Vernon newcomer and Cobs Bread owner Heather Lastik is evident of that.
Lastik, who moved from Surrey in the summer of 2020 and has been operating the bakery on Anderson Way since Oct. 22 of that year, said this was her first real fire season.
“When we moved here it was COVID summer and there wasn’t a huge amount of fire,” she said. “This year, it was like, ‘we need to be able to do something,’ but I didn’t know what I could do.”
She turned to social media to crowdsource some direction.
“That exploded in itself and I was able to find a company called Rider Ventures (a local organization that provides professional wildfire and flood protection services), and I’d go down with boxes of stuff a few times a week,” Lastik said from behind the counter on a busy Thursday morning (Sept. 23).
But once hundreds of evacuations were ordered, including her own brother’s, Lastik and her team’s focus shifted slightly.
“I saw the stress and everything, they’re sitting in lineups forever, they don’t know where their housing is or where their food is coming from,” she said of the evacuee experience.
“I said to my husband, ‘We need to help. We need to do something.'”
Lastik announced on social media that evacuees could come to the shop to get anything they need at no cost.
“It was all on the honour system. They’ve already gone through enough stress,” she said. “Yes, there are going to be people who take advantage. I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned, I’m going to look at it as promotional; maybe they’ll come back another day and buy something else.”
Cobs Bread was donating approximately $500 in product every day, Lastik estimated.
More was donated to community kitchens and organizations that asked for help.
“If we’re in a position where we can help, that’s what we’re going to do.”
This fire season, many residents offered donations to Lastik and her team to use in their quest to serve evacuees, but Lastik says she has bigger plans for those funds.
“I want to rebuild something,” she said. “My plan is to do a big fundraiser and all the funds collected will go towards rebuilding something in the community.”
Lastik is looking to the community to pitch ideas of what Cobs Bread can focus its energies on rebuilding. Suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.