A Helping Hand, A Volunteer StoryOur Volunteers

A Helping Hand, A Volunteer Story

A Helping Hand, A Volunteer Story

A Helping Hand, A Volunteer Story

Ann Gordon volunteers every Wednesday at the Food Bank from 10AM to 11:30AM with her coach Debra Kibler.  She has been a steady and welcome addition to the team for over a year now. Ann is almost blind and has some cognitive challenges. The team of volunteers sets up her station so she can go straight to work when she arrives. She loves to complete projects then get her “sweet treat”.  We honored her with an award this year at the annual luncheon. Here’s what we wrote:

“This volunteer has a heart of gold. Helping all people both young and old.  Always giving, always sharing. This volunteer is always caring. She packs the beans, she packs the rice. She makes sure that our food looks nice. She works with gusto, she repackages with pride, you know her helping nature comes from deep down inside. She’s always honest, kind, and fair, such a gracious volunteer, willing to share. You always go the extra mile and while doing so you wear a big, beautiful smile. It’s not for money, it’s not for fame, it’s not for any personal gain. It’s just for the love of her fellow man. It’s just to lend out a helping hand. Ann Gordon we thank you for all your Love, Inspiration and Help in the food bank kitchen. For this we give you the Helping Hand Award. Why share this story?  You never know who’s heart you might reach through recognition.”

Karla Jacks, Director of the Camano Center, is Ann’s sister.  She attended the volunteer luncheon and was so moved by the tribute to her sister.  She’s been trying to find a place for Ann to volunteer for years and was turned away by the food bank several times.  Ann has flourished under the loving eyes of her coach and new friends at the food bank. Ann has never been recognized in her lifetime and it touched Karla’s heart very deeply.  Karla said that her family is grateful for the generosity and kindness of Ann’s fellow workers and all that we’ve done to include her in our family. Ann has a sense of purpose and a “job”.  She looks forward to Wednesdays, so she can contribute.

Debra Kibler, Ann’s coach, was also honored at the luncheon.  She puts on her apron and helps out with any project that she can.  She is the ONLY coach who’s ever embraced volunteerism and actively serves with her client.  She loves being a part of this organization but when we recognized her, she was speechless. Debra was brought to “happy tears”.  No one has ever honored her or taken the time to say Thank You the way we did at the luncheon. She’s still talking about it. She told us that the luncheon was ‘life changing’ for her and she wanted us to know how much it meant to her.

You never know which small act of kindness will have a major impact on someone’s life.

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Empowering Our Volunteers To Be The BestOur Volunteers

Empowering Our Volunteers To Be The Best

Empowering Our Volunteers To Be The Best

Empowering Our Volunteers To Be The Best

As many know, a huge percentage of our Food Bank volunteers are retired individuals but

 if you come on a Tuesday, you will find a young man who looks oddly out of place (and yet, obviously right at home). Emery Lindauer, a local high school aged student gives his time every Tuesday to help here in the warehouse. Emery is homeschooled and part of a local Boy Scout troop. He is hard working, fast, efficient and does every task given to him with an upbeat attitude. His love for the Food Bank is obvious and his friendships with our older volunteers are strong.

When Emery became eligible to pursue his Eagle Scout achievement in early March, he came straight to Linda to find out what he could do to improve and enhance the Food Bank building. And of course, what better project could there be than the Hope Backpack Program. With the Grabil building available but not yet ready for Backpack assembly, it was obvious that this was the perfect fit for Emery to earn this honor and be able to serve the food bank in a new capacity. By the second week of March, the plan was in place for Emery to build out counters and workspace for our backpack team to move into.

As anyone who has worked on an Eagle Scout project knows, it can take months to get project approvals and plans into place. There is a paperwork process, which then has to be reviewed and signed off by multiple people. Emery got all of his needed items together, got them submitted and began the waiting process in late March. However, with the steady growth of our Backpack program, it was obvious that we needed to get our team out from the upstairs hallway and into the Grabil building as soon as possible.

Linda reached out to Emery and expressed her concern that we needed construction to start soon, and Emery promised he would see what he could do. Within one week, Emery had made phone calls, had meetings and gotten his project signed and ready to be started. It was time to make this plan come to life!

The Food Bank was willing and prepared to buy all necessary materials for the building project – But Emery decided to go above and beyond here too. He took a trip to Hamilton Lumber, dressed in uniform and a smile on his face, and came back to tell us that Hamilton was donating every item and material needed for the project. The joy and excitement on Emery’s face was obvious – He took great pride in being able to do everything he could for our Food Bank.

During Spring Break, Emery gathered a team of scouts to come into the food bank to start construction on April 5th under the supervision of Jim Pickering. Pouring rain, with canopies set up outside, they set to work creating the countertops. The project was expected to take two, maybe three weeks of working. But again – Emery went beyond expectations. The construction was completely done by 2pm on that very first day of work. A beautiful, sturdy L shaped counter, providing roughly 23 feet of work space, was ready and waiting in the Grabil building. Emery was beaming with pride.

The next day, Emery brought another group of help – This time, some families from his church- and within a few short hours, all the food supplies for the Hope Backpack program were moved from the upstairs hallway, down and out to the Grabil building, and set in place exactly as they needed to be. Every single item had been placed exactly where it was supposed to go – right down to the signs the backpack team had hanging above each food group.

This project was something that was done with love, joy and pride – by someone who serves the food bank with all his energy and all his heart. We are so grateful to have Emery as a part of our team and be able to watch him grow into an amazing young man. The lessons that he is able to learn from those he works with here, along with the sense of empowerment we are able to give him with a project like this, is something amazing. There is so much more good that comes from this food bank than just feeding the hungry – We are inspiring, encouraging and empowering volunteers of all ages and backgrounds to be their best selves.

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A Community of SupportOur Families

A Community of Support

A Community of Support

A Community of Support

Jane was found by customers and volunteers sleeping on a couch in the Thrift Store right after the store opened at 10AM. People were concerned, and we were asked to assist. After carefully waking Jane (she was disoriented and afraid), she and our staff member chatted about her choice of sleeping spots. Here’s her story… She just needed a place to rest/sleep for a while. Every time she tried to sleep outside, she was awakened and threatened with police action. She said that she was so tired and hadn’t slept in days because she was so scared.  We took her over to the Food Bank and created a nest for her upstairs so she could get some much needed sleep. The Food Bank was very busy with volunteer activity and everyone knew that she was there sleeping. Thrift Store volunteers were celebrating a birthday and shared homemade soup, pasta and bread with Jane. She inhaled the food then promptly fell asleep.

After 5 hours, Jane woke up and we had the opportunity to get “the rest of her story”. She was living on the streets in Seattle but became frightened of the many homeless and violent men she encountered. She made her way up to Stanwood, where she was raised. She was hoping to connect with some family or friends in the area. She hadn’t been successful reaching anyone yet. She was very polite, coherent and engaging this entire time. Several volunteers appeared around 4PM and everyone got involved in the “Jane Project”.  Pat R, Gaylen and Mary jumped into action. Pat found a backpack as well as duffle bag for a sleeping bag, mat and food items that we assembled for Jane. Mary and Gaylen helped shop along with Caryl from the Thrift Store (Jane wasn’t wearing any socks and her feet were cold). She shook the hand of each person who was helping her and thanked them.

End of the Story:  Why did Jane choose the Thrift Store for safety and warmth?  Jane’s great great auntie was Jeanie Ovenell. She knew that people would help her, and she’d be safe if she could just get to the Thrift Store.  After her rest, Gaylen drove her to the Resource Center for assistance. We hope that Jane is doing better and is off the streets.

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