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A Letter from our Board President
Music is a passion of mine and has taught me many lessons of life and loss over the years. If I had to choose the most important of these lessons it would be the ability to improvise and that you keep playing even when you mess up. How little did I understand how important these lessons would be in my journey with the Bonney Lake Food Bank. I can also thank my background in music (and numerous failed attempts at forming a band) as the reason that I found the Bonney Lake Food Bank in the first place.
When I originally moved to the area in 2017 I decided I would no longer look for a reliable drummer, I would train my then six year old son, Wade, to be that drummer. It just so turns out that the music school that Wade attended was next to the old food bank and one day while waiting in my car for him to finish his lesson I decided to walk over and check it out. I had no idea that small, seemingly minor decision would start me on a journey that would wholly change my life and perspective.
My work with the food bank started with me coordinating regular volunteer shifts with my employer where we would send two people every other Friday to the food bank to help. I continued helping here and there until one day I was asked to come to a board meeting and see if I would be interested in possibly joining. One thing led to another and I found myself accepting the role of Board President in June of 2019 which honestly sounds crazy (and probably was!) when I look back on that decision given I was a busy father of three young kids with a more than full time job already.
If you have lived in the area for more than a few years you may remember some stories around the same time surfacing about the food bank and our dire circumstances. Those stories were the result of a very concerned and unequipped Jenson flailing for support as I saw our finances dwindling with little hope of recovery in sight. But, as in music, we improvised and the beat played on. We ended up finishing 2019 with a strong close that exceeded all our expectations thanks in large part to an outpouring of support from many of you and the tireless dedication of our staff.
Moving into 2020 the future seemed full of opportunity. We were well on our way in evolving our operational maturity on a number of fronts and just completed our first pass at a three year strategic plan. We finalized our selection for the Executive Director role and just knew that brighter days lay ahead for our organization. I can remember the first meeting I had with Stacey we discussed a mysterious illness locking down parts of China and wondered to what extent this would impact our plans.
"In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity." - Sun Tzu
As lock downs started to set in we realized quickly how this would affect our traditional model of serving clients and that we needed to do something (and fast!) or we would not be able to continue supporting the community in a time of great need. As an Executive Team we met and realized our only option was to create a delivery service and leverage technology to quickly develop the infrastructure to support it. So, we improvised and the beat played on. We took our two 80’s era Dodge Vans and a resilient crew of staff and volunteers and we hit the road. During much of this time I was at my house in Tehaleh helping to build out and manage the infrastructure for delivery while our brave crew hit the road each and everyday.
The scale of our operations grew significantly during 2020 and while we rarely ever met in person the Executive Team remained in constant contact over Office365 and Slack. As the pandemic progressed we brought in additional help from many community volunteers and eventually the National Guard and saw our client count grow over 700%. We ended 2020 with incredible momentum and community support and were at a place where we needed to move our operations to a new location to keep up. This is when we decided to move to the farm or what many of you know as The Market. We always had a vision for a food bank that no one realizes is a food bank and we saw that potential in this place on Highway 410.
Since moving to The Market we have continued our pace of progress and innovation through 2021. We have accomplished our goal of building a space that doesn’t look or feel like your traditional food bank while being recognized for our innovative approach to quality and service. Our volunteers and staff have come together and used all of their gifts to create a look, feel and overall experience that is open and welcoming to all in the community. One needs to look no further than this publication or any of our social media channels to see the results. All of this was an effort by the community for the community and still to this day amazes me with what was accomplished in such a relatively short amount of time.
As we look forward into 2022 and beyond there is cause for great optimism but also cautious concern. The looming economic uncertainty and continuance of the pandemic will continue to necessitate the need for our services and support in this community. We are always looking at how we can develop innovative approaches to addressing needs while driving the most effective return on investment on the support we do receive from all of you. Know this is always top of mind for me in that I view your contributions as an investment in our model and not just as charity.
In closing I would like to share with each of you a sneak peak into my letter that we will be sending out as part of our annual report. Each year we publish this report and will be making available soon on social and our website.
Friends and Neighbors,
As we come upon the close of another year at The Bonney Lake Food Bank, I continue to be amazed at not just how far we have traveled but how far we have yet to go and the limitless potential that a group of seemingly ordinary people can have when they set their sights for change.
During my tenure as Board President, I have been witness to countless examples of ingenuity, community and generosity that keeps me hopeful for our future and confident in our mission. These everyday examples of kindness and service have always been the foundation for our organization, and I would like to personally thank all of you that have done the work and been along for the ride on this incredible journey.
As we look back on 2021, we have a lot to be grateful for. We continued the build out of our East Pierce County concept food bank, The Market, with ongoing development of both digital and physical infrastructure to support operations and growth. We opened The Market up to the public and received widespread acclaim from the community and even hosted a meeting of the Pierce County Council. We even launched a regular newsletter, The Table, which details our story that I would encourage anyone interested in our mission to check out.
As we look forward to 2022 and beyond, we have exciting plans that include building out recently funded programs that will look to merge new technologies with innovative approaches to food distribution. We will continue to focus on the key objectives laid out in our Strategic Plan and looking to grow and evolve the structure of our organization and brand presence.
Let us not forget that we have some considerable headwinds ahead of us including economic uncertainty, continuance of the pandemic, and a growing demand for our services. To accomplish our goals and provide the level of service we are known for we will need the continued help of this community.
Thank you to all that provided generous donations in 2021 and we hope you will support us in 2022 by joining Team28 our recurring campaign for sustainability.
Thanks again to each of you for your time, your dedication and most of all your hearts. What we have accomplished we have done together, despite the odds.
Onwards and Upwards,