The WHMA Food Bank has served the area for about 23 years. Bonnie began volunteering there in 2006 and became an assistant to the previous manager, Evelyn Rightenburgh. She took over the manager’s position when Rightenburgh retired three years ago. Prior to her work at the food bank, she volunteered in the E.R. at St. Clare’s Hospital in Lakewood, Washington.
“There was a time in my life I was in low income raising three children as a single parent and I used a local food bank in my town. I know what hard times can do and have always wanted to give back. I have always done volunteer work when ever possible…I love to help people,” spoke Ryan of the inspiration for her work.
With a recent and steady increase in demand at the food bank, the Ryan’s were presented with the challenge of maximizing their capacity. After taking over the space that previously contained Ann’s Boutique, they included shelves for better food organization, a larger shopping area, a private commodities section, a handicap accessible restroom, and finally, an indoor waiting room to prevent clients from standing in the weather each week to receive their food.
Bonnie said, “We will have a much better traffic patter for all. Those that come for commodities will have a separate area to go to, there is more ample space for the clients to shop and no more stairs to carry groceries down!”
Although the physical work has seemingly taken no time at all, the planning for such an undertaking began in October of 2012. Food bank volunteers and even a few clients are performing the majority of the renovations.
Of course, a renovation such as this doesn’t come for free, even to an establishment doing so much good in their community. Many local companies donated most of the materials such as the paint and plywood. Even a few companies from out of town pitched in to build Bonnie a private office in the establishment. Everything else has come from donations from the community from their time to their funding. Though there is no set debut date, the Ryan’s hope to have an open house at the end of August.
The food bank serves over 500 people per month and that number is always increasing due to the fact that they turn no one away. As the food bank is only open Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., it’s easy to imagine the sheer volume of people being served at once.
Bob and Bonnie wish to remind the community that none of these services would be possible without the dedication and willingness of their staff of volunteers and the incredible community members that donate their time. Dedicated volunteers and help are always needed. Anyone that wishes to lend their time is welcome to stop in on Thursdays and speak with Bonnie. Monetary donations may be sent to P.O Box 383, Raymond, WA. 98577. Other donations can be dropped off on Thursdays or picked up by Bonnie. Contact her at 942-4726.