Volunteer workers recognized, lauded
October 17, 2019
Volunteers who grew and distributed vegetables around Wahkiakum County were recognized and praised at Tuesday's meeting of the board of county commissioners.
Community garden volunteers produced around 2,000 lbs. of vegetables for the Outdoor Café, said Cooperative Extension Agent Carrie Backman.
"We so appreciate the vegetables," commented Wahkiakum Food Bank volunteer Esther Roche. The food bank is open one day a week, and that schedule prevents long storage of fresh vegetables. The community gardeners are able to make a delivery for distribution day.
Any leftovers are forwarded to the St. Vincent de Paul distribution program or the West End Food Pantry, Rosche said.
The community garden has 24 garden plots; said Joyce Orr, co-coordinator with Winnie Lousma. Half used raised beds, and of those, half are for gardeners and half are used to raise vegetables for donations.
The Outdoor Café summer meals program was originally start by a local church, said coordinator Suzanne Holmes, but it has been operated by community volunteers the past two summers. This year, 33 volunteers prepared 875 lunches and donated 327 hours of service.
Last year, Holmes said, the program operated out of Wend Elementary in Cathlamet, providing meals for students and families. This year, they expanded to provide meals and activities in Cathlamet and at Johnson Park in Rosburg.
"We tried to build a model that communities across the country could emulate," Holmes said.
She added that vegetables for Outdoor Café came from the school garden program spearheaded by Robin Westphal. The program's activities included service projects, she said, and students took time to weed the garden and harvest vegetables.
The volunteers also provided books which students could read or/or keep; left over books were donated to the Johnson Park library's children's section.
Where there were 33 volunteers, Holmes said the program would like to have more and younger volunteers next year.
Commissioners praised the volunteers and the programs.
"We really appreciated what you're doing," said Commissioner Mike Backman.
"I think it's great, the example you're giving the kids for community service," said Commissioner Gene Strong. "So many organizations in this county survive because of volunteers. I thank you for your service."