Sjoholm, Bread of Life part ways

Cindy Sjoholm has been removed as executive director of the Bread of Life. BOL board of directors are mum about why.

Cindy Sjoholm has been removed as executive director of the Bread of Life.

A fixture at the Bread of Life for almost seven years, Sjoholm was suddenly relieved of her duties by BOL board members suddenly on Jan. 14.

“They just told me that my services were no longer needed at the BOL and that I wasn’t to come around the facility,” Sjoholm said. “They never gave me a reason why. I don’t know. You have to ask them.”

Bread of Life board president Robert Gunter-Smith said that the dismissal was the result of a unanimous decision by the board’s seven members.

Gunter-Smith agreed that the BOL is consistently in the public eye. “But we don’t discuss board matters publicly and I’m sure you understand why.”

Sjoholm joined the BOL in 2007, taking the reigns from longtime executive director Vera Seydel. “I thought I’d get to retire here like she did,” Sjoholm said. “It’s heartbreaking, and it took a lot to get over, but I’m past the shock now.”

Sjoholm helped create space inside BOL for community agencies to use to meet with facility patrons. She also helped expand the nurses’ station.

“I’m really proud of helping build those bridges with agencies, and with agencies and BOL patrons,” she said.

Initiatives weren’t the only thing Sjoholm was proud of and will miss. “I’ll especially miss my co-workers and our patrons. I call us ‘a dysfunctional family’,” she said.

There are a few memories that stand out from the past seven years. Most recently, BOL used a donation via a will to replace its furnace and make some other facility upgrades. And there was also the man who donated $10,000 to replace a leaky roof and asked to remain anonymous.“It’s amazing how this town will look after its own,” she said.

The memories all roll into one, Sjoholm said, but they have a common theme – respect. “The respect we got from agencies, businesses and patrons. I’ll always remember that,” Sjoholm said.

The Bread of Life is part of a group of organizations that helps the Alberni Valley’s less fortunate. Sjoholm built a rapport with several agencies and hopes to find a niche in the same line of work, she said.

There was no word from the Bread of Life on who would be replacing Sjoholm as executive director.