Nourishing our Neighbors: Lisa

Lisa has been visiting the Southeast Tacoma Nourish Food Bank for the last five or six months.

She and her husband care for two of their aging parents, who have moved in with them. “There are four of us here now. Things are tight but we are trying to get through it.” One of their parents has a long-term medical issue that requires frequent doctor visits, the other is suffering from dementia, Lisa explained.

Lisa cleans houses and she works whenever she can, but, she has lost a few clients recently and she has been busy taking her family members to medical appointments. Her husband works full-time building and repairing cell phone towers. She said they are trying to support everyone in the house on just one income. “It’s hard to make ends meet without the food bank.”

Experiences like Lisa’s, where a family member is caring for aging parents, is becoming more common. According to the Pew Research Center, one in seven adults provide unpaid care for other adults in their lives.

Lisa first found the food bank when a friend brought her to visit when she needed help. Now, she gives other people a ride when they need it, so they can get help too. “God put us on this earth to care for and help one another.” She says the food bank is truly helping people right now. “You are a true blessing to people.”

Nourish Volunteers: David

David started volunteering at the Lakes Area Nourish Food Bank when he was in high school. He was told that he needed community service hours to graduate and the school presented him a list of places to choose from. A family member had relied on a food bank in the past, so he picked the Lakewood based food bank from the list.

David did not stop when he completed his community service hours. Three years later, David is still volunteering. He keeps a regular schedule and volunteers three days each week.

David helps out in many ways. He works the check-in desk, greeting clients when they first arrive and keeps the shelves stocked with food. When the food bank is not open, he works with the grocery recovery team, helping to collect food from grocery stores that donate products to the food bank.

Through his interactions with the clients and other volunteers, David wants to improve himself.  “There are so many things to learn and know. I ask myself how do I do this and how can I do it better?”

He sees the value in what he does for the community. “The food bank gives people who are in a slump an opportunity. It is not only about food, but it also provides happiness. You come here and you feel happy. The people here want to give you what you need.” David says.

Join David and visit our Volunteer page to sign up.

Nourish Volunteers: Randy

The day I met Randy, it was his 69th birthday and just like every Thursday, he was at the Edgewood Nourish Food Bank, volunteering. “The older I get the more I want to be a part of the community,” he explained.

Ten years ago, on the day he retired, his mother sat him down and asked him what he was going to do with his time now. She reminded him that his father was involved in several civic organizations. She suggested he visit the food bank to see if they needed help.

It was an ideal match. A former mechanic at Boeing, Randy said “That’s what I do. I fix stuff. That next Thursday, I came here to the Edgewood food bank and I’ve been coming back every week ever since.”

Now, Randy brings his mechanic’s precision to his volunteering. He explained that they serve 60 people every hour at Edgewood. He’s proud of that and makes sure that people know how the process works before they begin.

Randy greets clients, invites them inside, and assigns them a number. When their number is called, they walk through the food bank aisles to collect their food. “People are so thankful. It’s a family atmosphere, and all the people thank you as they go through.”

Kate, the Edgewood Nourish Food Bank manager said that Randy brings compassion, dignity and respect to his volunteering. “Randy has a heart of gold. When he sees a need, he is right there with a solution. He is well loved by clients, volunteers and staff.” Kate shared a specific story about how Randy saw a need and helped to address it it. “He realized an automatic number system would be helpful for our clients, so he went out and bought one.” Kate said, “I am forever grateful Randy found his way to the Edgewood Nourish Food Bank and into our hearts.”

One of the other volunteers had brought a cake for Randy’s birthday. Before I left, Randy made sure I had a piece to take with me.

Join Randy and sign up to Volunteer.

To learn more about the Edgewood Nourish Food Bank, read our “Get to Know a Food Bank” feature on Edgewood.