The Value of Volunteers

VHS wrestlers and cheerleaders left to right:     Damian Young, Meagan Schirmeister, Jake Harbour,  Nichole Gardner and Justin Fletcher.

VHS wrestlers and cheerleaders left to right:
Damian Young, Meagan Schirmeister, Jake Harbour,
Nichole Gardner and Justin Fletcher.

Most organizations utilize volunteers. Vernonia Cares Food Bank (VCFB), located within the American Legion Building at 627 Adams Avenue, relies upon volunteers for many aspects of its service functions. Operating a food bank compares closely to running a grocery store; food must be ordered, delivered, unloaded, stocked and then made available. The difference is that all of these activities are usually performed by volunteers.

In the month of July 2014, VCFB was staffed by 33 volunteers who donated 440 hours. Through the efforts of these volunteer, emergency food was available to 466 Vernonians. This represents a significant percentage of our local population. Considering that 49% of those people who were assisted are children or senior citizens, this is a vital service to our community.

Who helps and what do volunteers do? Jay Nesmith of Vernonia Hardware comes once a month with his forklift to move the 7,000-10,000 pounds of food off the freight truck so other volunteers can hand truck the food into the food bank. In July and August local helpers, the Vernonia High School wrestling team, the Vernonia Cheerleaders, and the young men from NW Vapors store helped unload freight. Other volunteers placed the frozen food into freezers. Since the food bank is open Tuesday and Thursday, from 10-2, volunteers keep the shelves stocked, assist clients with shopping and keep the facility clean. Weekly, two gentleman travel to Forest Grove and Beaverton to bring day old bread products to VCFB. Many volunteers have helped for years; others are newer. However, volunteerism is what keeps the food bank operational. 

The Board of Directors of VCFB are all volunteers. They meet monthly to oversee the direction of the organization, seek ways to locate operational funds and many are on-site volunteers. Others within the community perform fund raisers, which are vitally needed. An example is the Bear Creek Run on August 16; Kellie Murray is the volunteer race director. Sponsors and entrants provide funds which are used to keep the food bank doors open and food on the shelves.

“I am extremely thankful for each volunteer,” says  food bank director Sandy Welch. “We live in a community of generous people. Some give money; some give food (even from their own gardens); some give time and muscle. We need every aspect of that list! We’ve been open since 1985 thanks to volunteerism and generosity.”

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, in any capacity, please call Vernonia Cares Food Bank at 503-429-1414, and ask for Sandy. Or come by and see what’s happening. It’s an opportunity to help and enjoy seeing the fruits of your labor.