Wednesday, October 7, 2009

VOLUNTEER - Day of Caring, A Staff Perspective

by Monika Sundbaum, Account Executive

September 18, 2009 was an absolutely perfect autumn day in Pierce County - a day whose crisp, chilly morning transformed into an explosion of gorgeous warm sunshine by 10 a.m.

I made my way through the twisty, winding path to the FISH Food Bank in Edgewood, excited to meet my fellow volunteers for the day! I pulled into the parking lot and met three incredible women from Puget Sound Energy: Janet, Jennifer and Rayme. They were decked out in LIVE UNITED t-shirts and ready to roll. We were warmly welcomed by Pat and Steven who were working at FISH that day.

They took us on a tour of the beautiful facility and talked to us about the need for basic food assistance. We talked about how families who never pictured not being able to buy their own food are now standing in line, asking for help.

We also talked about solutions: FISH staff members look at their clients’ needs holistically – in fact, the Edgewood site (one of seven FISH sites in Pierce County) is piloting a partnership with South Sound Outreach Services – check out this great article in The News Tribune about it.

The four of us performed many tasks the staff have been wanting to work on, but just hadn’t had time to get to. Perfectly understandable, considering they’ve gone from serving 800 people to 3,000 people a month! Who has time to refinish wood when you can barely keep up stocking the shelves?

It was an honor to help – and Janet, Jennifer and Rayme were wonderful! Huge thanks to them and Puget Sound Energy for LIVING UNITED, and to Pat and Steven for the incredible work they do every day.

Pierce County Hunger Facts
More than 140,000 children, seniors and adults seek help finding food in Pierce County. Of these individuals:

• 52% are children and seniors (38% children under 19, 14% individuals over 55)
• 98% fall below the national poverty line
• Almost half are families with at least one adult working

During 2008 there were a total of 844,551 visits to Food banks and 833,230 visits to Hot Meal Sites in Pierce County. (Source: Pierce County Community Indicators Website)

Monday, October 5, 2009

VOLUNTEER - Day of Caring, A Volunteer's Perspective

by Guest Blogger Len Ganduglia
Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber & Day of Caring Volunteer

September 18, 2009 was a glorious day to be outdoors at the Tacoma Nature Center at Snake Lake. The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Team volunteered to do something outdoors like gardening, but I don’t think any of us expected what eventually transpired.

Terry from the Nature Center was our facilitator and informed us that we would indeed be “trail-blazers”: we would be going to the most northern part of the area and begin a new hiking trail. So, armed with the necessary tools (and a little red wagon to convey them), our trusty band of six (plus Sarah from UWPC) took about a 20-minute hike up the northern rim to a clearing. The next thing we know, Terry pulls out wire clippers and opens a hole in a chain-link fence, leading to a fairly densely overgrown area. Undaunted, with clippers and branch cutters in gloved hands, the Chamber’s intrepid crew managed to clear a path of about 100 feet in less than two hours. After hiking back to the Lodge for lunch, pulling weeds in the shrub nursery afterward seemed literally like “a walk in the park”!

So why did we volunteer? Because the United Way does a lot of good and it’s important for those or us who “have” to “pay it forward”, that is, show that we know we are blessed and to share what we have. In this case, it was time, energy and enthusiasm.

We want others to know that we “got” as good as we “gave”; the level of appreciation from Terry and Sarah was incredibly warm and genuine. We felt we could have done more but they made us feel like world-beaters. Also it was a joy for the members of the Chamber Team to get out and work together and enjoy the camaraderie.

Photo Courtesy of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber. Photographer: Christina Kitchens

Friday, October 2, 2009

VOLUNTEER - Day of Caring, A Host's Perspective

By Linda
Day of Caring Host

A little bit of this and a lot of that goes into serving 1,200 meals-a-day at the Hospitality Kitchen on Yakima Street. Five days a week, breakfast and lunch are served to anyone who shows up. It doesn’t matter who you are, as long as you respect the rules, you can eat, have a cup of coffee and rest in a safe environment.

Besides the regular volunteers who help prepare and serve meals, do dishes and unload donations, about twenty folks from Rainier Pacific Bank, DaVita and Fred Meyer came ready to do whatever was needed during United Way of Pierce County’s Day of Caring, Friday, September 18th. We were divided into work teams and off we went to paint the outside of the Catholic Community Center building, do landscaping, prep and serve lunch and organize the storage room.

Myself and three gentlemen from Rainier Pacific spent the day organizing the storage room unloading pallets, moving canned goods, unpacking thousands of coffee packets – I now know what inhaling coffee grounds can do to a person – and scrambled up and down ladders. I used muscles I hadn’t used in a long time. We were fast, efficient and funny. Bill, our supervisor, was happy to give us more to do whenever we asked, “What’s next, Bill?” At the end of the day, the Fabulous Four went back to their usual jobs counting their blessings.