Halifax volunteer Mel Boutilier is stepping down from the day-to-day running of the organization he founded 30 years ago.

Boutilier, 85, has volunteered as the executive director of the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank for three decades.

But he’s been out of the food bank for a month as he recovers at home from his sixth hip replacement. He’d rather be at work.

"It's hard for me. I have to admit that. I can't get it off my mind that I would like to be there," he said Monday.

The food bank serves between 200 and 300 families a week, but it is also a furniture bank, a skills training centre and two thrift stores.

Two men to replace one

Boutilier will return as executive director when he is feeling better but Roy Uffindell will stay on to take care of day to day operations.

Uffindell said he got a call three weeks ago asking him to become the volunteer full-time operations manager.

"I wasn't really looking for that. But this operation is one that should keep going, and I'm willing to put time in to make sure it does keep going and runs smoothly," he said.

Humphrey Longard is the interim director. He said he’s filling big shoes. "It's wearing me right out. I don't know how Mel ever stood it," he said.

Boutilier has won many accolades for his work, including the Order of Nova Scotia in 2009 and the Order of Canada in 2010.

He said they are still searching for a permanent replacement. When his health recovers, he will resume his role as overall executive director until a permanent replacement is found.

"I don't think we'll find somebody who'll do it on a volunteer basis. We'll have to find a budget. And that's not easy," he said.

New projects

Boutilier is going to devote his newly acquired free time to start new projects for Parker Street. 

"I need to be thinking of how it'll operate years down the road. Because there will always be a need to help people," Boutilier said.

Parker Street is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a grand annual fundraising dinner at the Cunard Centre on Sept. 17.

The charity began in the basement of a Seventh Day Adventist Church on Parker Street. It is now based on Maynard Street in Halifax's north end.