Published by Veronica Zaretski

As anyone who works in a non-profit might tell you, creativity is a huge asset. It takes a combination of creative minds to address the particular needs and challenges of non-profits, while offering innovative solutions. Luckily at Furniture Bank, we are never in shortage of creative minds to bring fresh ideas to the table. Take for example, Paul Farrar, Operations Manager.

Other than his daytime job of overseeing the operations at Furniture Bank, for the past ten years, Paul has been at TIFF every single year. Contracted to take photos of the world’s biggest stars, he came in the morning bright and early to make sure our social enterprise is running smoothly, and then left in the evening to cover TIFF happenings. Paul sat down with us to talk about how he got started with Furniture Bank, and where that creative streak helps in the non-profit sector.

How did you first become involved with Furniture Bank?

PF: My background is in logistics and finances, and I had a background of working in charities and nonprofit. When I heard about the opportunity at Furniture Bank, it sounded really interesting. To me, the most meaningful part of Furniture Bank is the services that we provide to clients and seeing it unfold first hand. For example, I clearly remember one time when a woman came in to select furniture. She looked at one particular couch, and started to cry on the spot. The couch was exactly the same one that her grandmother had, which reminded her instantly of home. As a new immigrant, this was very special to her.

You moonlight as a photographer. Can you tell us about that?

PF: I’ve been a photojournalist for years. That industry changed a lot over time. When my kids were born, it became harder to go out of the country. Nowadays, a journalist is a journalist, an editor, a photographer, etc etc. I started working for the American Image Press, and I ended up taking stock photographs, which they then sell to magazines. That’s how I started taking photos at TIFF. Around 10 to 15 years ago, TIFF became really well known, and I’ve been taking photos at TIFF for ten years now.

What are some of your most memorable moments at TIFF?

PF: Al Pacino was incredibly memorable. He is very funny. As an actor he is always intense, and you wouldn’t anticipate him to be this funny guy in person. My favourite photo so far is a toss up between taking a photo of the cast of The Big Chill – they had a showing at this year’s TIFF, and taking a photo of Brad Pitt. He was very humble in person, quiet, and soft-spoken. He does so much charity work that it was great to photograph him.

How has your own path in both the creative and operational side brought you to Furniture Bank?

PF: Being here at Furniture Bank really helps me with my creativity. Everything that I’ve learned is in this building – form the warehouse operations, client services my belief in helping others and building community – this place has everything that I like.