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The power of one, Lia Renaud

Brenda Leenders, a local public health nutritionist, is a catalyst for positive change.

Brenda Leenders

Editor's note: This is the last column in a six-part series exploring the lives of people having a positive impact on Colchester County.

“Do more than believe: practice. Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work.”

― William Arthur Ward

She works locally and globally to develop strategies, initiatives and tools to support sustainable food systems and overall health.

In 2012, Leenders was appointed the Canadian Foodgrains Bank regional co-ordinator. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of Canadian churches and church-based agencies working to end global hunger. Her role is to create awareness and educate people about global hunger issues, support fundraising initiatives that help fund international programs to meet immediate food needs, reduce malnutrition, achieve sustainable food security and advocate for improvements in national and international policies that contribute to ending global hunger.

“I believe that we all have a part to play in making our corner of the world a better place ... the old 'bloom where you are planted' adage," said Leenders.

When asked what inspires her to work for justice, she describes her optimism is based on her faith.

"My confidence comes from God; the promise that I will be given what I can handle, and pray that the use of my passion and gifts are in line with God's plan for me," said Leenders.

Leenders also believes that justice is not an option, it is the future.

"It's about people, purpose, passion, persistence, patience, perseverance, a belief in the good in people, and that together we can make a difference,” said Leenders.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) 2013 statistics, there are 842 million hungry people in the world (98 per cent of those live in developing nations).  The number one risk to health worldwide is hunger and malnutrition.

In 2012, the United Nations World Food Program stated that hunger is the world's greatest solvable problem.

Maintaining a positive outlook, Leenders sees this as an opportunity to work hard and invite others to see themselves as part of the solution.

"It's about seeing where positive action is already taking hold, supporting those who are part of that, contributing where you can without taking it over, or burning out.  It's about always learning, listening, trying things out, being willing to make a mistake and own up to it. Never assuming that I know it all,” said Leenders.

This is the power of personal potency.  This is the mentality of a change agent who takes knowledge to action and has the capacity to create change.

Although, she never has thought of herself as a change agent, Leenders considers her ability to see the potential linkages among people and organizations, and help put them together to accomplish goals that make our part of the world a better place to live, is where she has the greatest impact.

"I have been blessed with good health, energy, education, job, husband, family, friends and community that encourages and supports my involvement. To whom much is given, much is expected.  At the same time, I do not believe that I have to do it all. Even when Jesus walked this earth, He did not end hunger ... He healed, one interaction at a time," said Leenders.

If you are interested in learning more about Canadian Foodgrains Bank please visit: http://www.foodgrainsbank.ca/

Lia Renaud is a recent graduate of Western University in London, Ont., and is happy to be now living in Colchester County.

Organizations: Canadian Foodgrains Bank, Agricultural Organization, United Nations World Food Program Western University

Geographic location: Colchester County, London, Ont.

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