Outstanding volunteer service in 2017

As I looked back over 2017, checking our Facebook posts for all the day-to-day items I’d forgotten in the sweep of larger issues, trends and challenges, I got a little emotional at the cumulative impact of all these acts of kindness going on throughout our community.

There were so many generous moments which, taken one at a time or at a glance, might look small but actually add up to something larger: people working earnestly to fix things, even when the fight is hard and the work seems unending. It speaks to the nature of our community that so many people contribute to making better lives for all.

Two of those people are volunteers Ed and Joy Ramey, who recently retired after almost a decade of association with ShareNet. Ed started first, coming to the food bank motivated by the subject of infant needs. For years thereafter, the Rameys regularly purchased and delivered diapers as needed to the food bank.

Eventually, Ed became a Grocery Rescue volunteer, handling the Monday pickup. Though Grocery Rescue is just one element in our food sourcing and purchasing, it’s very physical and probably our most challenging volunteer position — the hardest to fill, since 98 percent of our volunteers are seniors.

When Ed was out of town or otherwise committed with one of his other volunteer gigs (managing two local AARP tax-aide sites, and teaching chemistry and physics in an annual trip to a school in Tanzania), his wife Joy performed Grocery Rescue on her own — only the second regularly scheduled woman in the history of the program to do so. Because Ed and Joy worked alone on a day the food bank is closed, they never received some of the ancillary benefits of volunteering, such as enjoying the camaraderie of others or direct praise.

Ed and Joy truly never wanted any thanks or recognition, and this is rare. They did it because they believe in ShareNet and our value to the community, and understood how their tasks directly contributed to that value. Two other Grocery Rescue volunteers, Mike Willmes and Christopher St. Romaine, have done the heavy lifting for this program for years now, taking on most of the schedule and filling in when others couldn’t.

Linda Hell has been with our F2GO program almost from the beginning. The first day I met Linda onsite, she was wearing a white lab coat, which contributed to her air of hygienic good sense. Linda doesn’t wear the lab coat anymore, but her good sense still prevails and she carefully administers logistics for this program — making sure food gets ordered, packed and delivered to our local schools. Her partner in this task is Jerry Ulsund, who has been with us almost as long and quickly became as dedicated as Linda. In 2017, they were ably supported by Bettie Armstrong and Geno Borgomainerio.

Pauline Heath is one of those volunteers who became a fixture at ShareNet, working most days of the week and most hours of each day — to the point we had to say “Pauline, slow down.” Pauline applies herself in an incredibly dedicated way to the tasks of food storage and rotation in our warehouse. Susie Hanson-Stevens was new to us in 2017, but quickly carved an important role as a super organizer and cleaner.

We not only have great help onsite, but offsite as well. Pat Bennett-Foreman is a former local educator and Kiwanis Club president. Pat became involved with our Back to School Supplies event years ago, supporting various event chairs with her vital community influence. Eventually, she agreed to become the chair herself and last year, in the midst of serious illness, pulled off another fantastic event. We’re amazed by Pat’s concern for our larger community and her work on behalf of it.

Each year, Doc and Vickey Casper organize an auction for ShareNet at Poulsbo’s Sons of Norway Trolls Den. They motivate local businesses and club members to donate goods or services to be auctioned off during the second week of December. Vickey makes sure everything looks great at the auction, including custom gift baskets, and Doc is an incredibly motivational auctioneer. Trolls Den patrons and visitors make such a strong turnout at this auction that the event becomes the largest external fundraiser held for ShareNet annually.

Kingston High School service clubs showed incredible support in 2017, with major food drives held by the Honor Society, ASB and Interact clubs, as well as support from the middle school’s Horticulture Club

Thanks to all the staff, students and parents who have been energized by ShareNet programs.

Rita Nicholson moved Kingston-area businesses to donate prizes for a monthly volunteer reward program.

In 2017, we lost Mike Webb, a very dedicated volunteer, to a sudden heart attack.

There are so many others, there’s not space enough to name. We salute them all.

— Mark Ince is executive director of ShareNet.