In the dark midwinter, a gift from the Midnight Sun

Captain Daniel Servino of TOTE Maritime Alaska shakes hands with Steven Seltzer of Our Place Society at Seaspan Victoria Shipyards in front of the Midnight Sun.

In early December, as the Midnight Sun (one of TOTE Maritime Alaska’s ships) was making its way to Seaspan’s Victoria Shipyards (VSL) for the first of two shipyard work periods that will convert it to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) dual fuel propulsion system, Marlene Gurnham’s phone rang. Graham George, VSL Program Manager for the TOTE LNG project, was on the other end, with a request that was a first, even for the seasoned Executive Assistant to the shipyard’s most senior executives.

Captain Daniel Servino, the Midnight Sun’s skipper, was coming into port with a significant amount of food on board and wanted to make sure that it did not go to waste. “Marlene,” said Graham, “can you figure out what to do with it?”

Graham (and the Captain) had come to the right place. Marlene is one of those people who can, and does, handle unusual requests. She called Our Place, a well-known downtown community centre that works with Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable populations, figuring they would be able to put the incoming bounty to good use. They were delighted. So were Captain Servino and the TOTE organization, who agreed, without a moment’s hesitation, to make the generous donation.

In addition to Captain Daniel Servino and several TOTE employees, many others assisted with the food transfer including (shown above from left to right) Dylan Goddard (Victoria Shipyards), Steven Seltzer (Our Place Society), Jake Ash (Victoria Shipyards), Lindsay Mruk (Victoria Shipyards), Shawn Kuin (Our Place Society), Riley Heare (Our Place Society) as well as (not shown in photo) Jesper Kontkannen (Victoria Shipyards) and Peter Milne (Victoria Shipyards).

Marlene made calls around the shipyard, lining up VSL trucks and volunteers to get the food off the Midnight Sun and over to Our Place. Then, as she was in the final throes of organizing a company holiday party for some 1,100 guests (one of those people who can handle unusual requests, remember?), she handed over execution of the plan to Peter Milne, Assistant Project Manager on the TOTE project.

Peter and a cheerful crew of VSL volunteers (see photo) were up to the task and went to work. They coordinated with TOTE and managed the unloading of the food stocks from the Midnight Sun’s fridges and freezers, and its delivery to Our Place.

The staff at Our Place were jubilant. The stocks came in just in time to contribute to their Christmas lunch, and more. “The donated food provides a base of ingredients for us to build upon in our meals. We serve 1,200 meals per day and you can bet each day in December and January, a portion of that food is coming from the TOTE donation that Seaspan delivered to us,” says Steven Seltzer, Our Place’s Manager of Special Events & Corporate Giving.

Peter and Marlene are both quick to dismiss the part they played “All the credit goes to our customer TOTE and the overflowing skip of food they donated,” explains Peter. Marlene adds “In the dark wintertime when people need that help, along they came and made a sizable donation into our community. That’s pretty special.”

TOTE and Seaspan got to see firsthand the impact that TOTE’s donation is having when representatives from the companies got together at Our Place on January 28th to serve breakfast to the community. That was pretty special too.

Thanks to the generosity of TOTE Maritime Alaska, a significant contribution of food was donated to Our Place Society to aid them in delivering the 1,200 meals per day to people in need in downtown Victoria.
From left to right:
Midnight Sun Captain Karl Carr, Graham George (Victoria Shipyards, Program Manager), Kade George (Graham’s son), Taylor Janney (TOTE, Senior Marketing Manager), Kris Neely (Seaspan Shipyards, Manager Corporate Affairs), Marlene Gurnham (Victoria Shipyards, Executive Assistant), Christopher Smith (TOTE, Director of Communications), Teddy Pease (TOTE, Senior Marketing and Operations Analyst), Peter Milne (Victoria Shipyards, Assistant Project Manager)