Nobody goes hungry on my watch, says Linda Zol.
After years of lending a helping hand wherever needed, most often in a kitchen serving up snacks, meals, and weekly provisions for the area’s needy, Zol is being recognized for her big-hearted and very flavoursome community service.
She is this year’s Community Service Award recipient in Montrose, chosen by council for selflessly raising the quality of life of others through volunteerism, as well as a long serving the village’s Recreation Commission.
As a member of Holy Trinity Parish and the Catholic Women’s League, Zol is often in an apron stirring a pot or baking up comfort to support families through difficult times, raise money for community initiatives like Friends of Refugees Trail, Skool Aid or icing cupcakes for Sanctuary’s after school program – so many causes over the years.
Zol is a familiar face to many, no matter the age, often going above and beyond for those seeking help from the local food bank and other community service organizations.
“It’s very rewarding because I see the need to help,” Zol said. “Now I know them by name and they are almost like family to me.”
Besides sorting out food staples and delivering bread throughout Greater Trail, she shares her kitchen know-how with patrons-in-need, now friends.
“I do get a lot of vegetables and fruit given to me,” Zol explained. “And I make jam for them, which they love.”
She also stretches out the use of donated bread, so nothing goes to waste.
“I bring home baguettes, which become very hard, and make breadcrumbs,” Zol said, mentioning that many food bank patrons didn’t know what to do with the bread crumbs at first. “So I showed them to put it in hamburger, make a meat loaf or bread chicken. Now all the bread crumbs go, they know what to do with it, everything gets used.”
So what gives Zol such energy and drive to give back?
“When I was seven we lost my dad and my mom had three daughters that she had to raise,” Zol shared. “The community really helped us, the Salvation Army, Veterans Affairs – and I was raised on welfare. And so my sister and I give back,” she added. “This community has always been very caring and giving – no one should go hungry.”
Mayor Joe Danchuk will present Zol the honour Thursday night in the community hall at 7 p.m. as part of Volunteer Appreciation Night. The event kicks off this year’s 60th anniversary celebrations, which include an extra special Montrose Family Fun Day on Saturday.
“It’s volunteers like Linda who make Montrose such a great place to live,” said Danchuk. “Our community events throughout the year wouldn’t be possible without out them.”
Though the Thursday award presentation is by invitation only, people can give Zol a wave on Saturday during the parade. After that, she’s back in apron tending to the concession, like always.
“At first, I told the mayor I can’t be in the parade,” she laughed. “He said I could jump out and run to the concession on the way back. But honestly, I am very honoured and humbled by this, it’s nice to be recognized.”