Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group

Directors of the Community Food Bank - Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group - Episode 3

June 08, 2020 Season 1 Episode 3
Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group
Directors of the Community Food Bank - Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group - Episode 3
Show Notes Transcript

Christi has a full house in this episode, talking to some of the team behind the Community Food Bank of Grand Junction. Alisha Wenger, Executive Director, and two board members, Biff Messinger and Karen McLean-Wilson, share how they got involved in the Food Bank.  They also discuss the mission and history, as well as their efforts to support the Grand Valley community during the COVID-19 pandemic. To make a donation or to volunteer for the Food Bank, please visit www.foodbankgj.org. This episode was recorded on May 26, 2020.

Speaker 1:

The full circle podcast, compelling interviews and incredible tales from Colorado's Western slope, from the mountains to the desert, Christi Reece and her team here from the movers, shakers and characters of the grand Valley and the surrounding mountain towns that make the Western slope, the place we all love. You'll learn. You'll laugh. You'll love with the full circle. Hi everyone. This is Christi Reece with a full circle podcast, and we are here today with some members of the board and directors of the local community food bank. And we're really interested to hear about how they are , uh, making it during this time, because it's been a little bit crazy. Am I right? Correct. Yes. So , um , I'd like to start with some introductions. So Biff Messinger, tell us a little bit about your role at the community food bank and what you do in your free time and how you got involved with the food bank.

Speaker 2:

Sure. Christie , and thanks for doing this. Um, I actually have been involved with food bank for eight years. I moved here from Phoenix, Arizona, and retired , uh , and I wanted something to do. So I joined the rotary club and one of the presentations that were given at the rotary club was by the executive director of the community food bank. Uh, and I heard it was so impressed. I immediately went up to her and volunteered as a food packer. And , uh , so about two weeks later , uh, went down to the food bank, which was located at South spruce street , uh, in the County building. And I started packing food in boxes and I did that and enjoyed it. Great bunch of volunteers down there and , uh, did that for about a year. And towards the end of that first year, I was approached by a member of the board of directors of the community food bank, Christie Adams, who was the president at that time. And she asked me if I'd be interested in joining the board. Uh , and I had seen enough of the operation of the food bank to know that it was a very worthwhile and , and , um, efficient organization. And I gladly joined the board. I joined, I was, I voted, I get voted on. Uh, and I did that for about three years as a board member. And I was primarily involved in conduct doing the food drives and I still volunteered, but , uh, I was involved in public outreach and so forth. Um, and then after a couple years I went on vacation to Virginia. And when I came back, I was the president

Speaker 1:

funny how that works.

Speaker 2:

And I was the president for 'em for four years and a three year term, but I was having so much fun. I just stayed there. And , um, we have a unique mission at the food bank , uh, and that's what attracted me to it. And that is , uh , our clientele is the working poor. Uh , and as you know, that demographic in this country is growing all the time. Because even though you may work one job or two jobs, you may not be making enough to make ends meet. And that's where we came in. Uh , the emergency food bank is, was created to provide food to people who are going through a financial, you know, it started

Speaker 3:

in 1978 and our mission has not changed in 42 years.

Speaker 1:

That's amazing. And I do want to come back , uh , to a little bit more about the history of the food bank, but thank you, Biff . And , um, next we have Karen McLean-Wilson. And if you'll pass the microphone over to Karen, Karen, tell us a little bit about how you got involved with the food bank and what your role is currently and a little bit about yourself.

Speaker 3:

Sure. So , um, I've been on a year long search for something that grabs my attention and gives me an opportunity to give back and get involved in our community. That's something with something that gives me a feeling of passion. And , um, I think you were actually asked about being a part of the food bank and you were currently extremely involved in district 51 and didn't quite have the time. And I raised my hand very, very quickly and I got involved with Beth over here, and again, was voted in, got to meet the board. And , um , I'm just super excited. The mission , um , that they do is phenomenal. And I love that it is for folks who just need a bridge at a time of crisis. They are hardworking and doing everything they can to live just like all of us are. And , um, it's just a great way to, to help people who, who are really giving their all to their life on their own, not, you know, just having a handout. It's, it's a beautiful, beautiful program that's going on. They're so great . And then for me, I'm a realtor with the Christie Reece group. So , um, our whole team likes to try to find opportunities in the community to make a difference. So that's how I went myself right here.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, Karen and Alisha Wenger, tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at the food bank. Hi, I'm ,

Speaker 4:

I'm Alisha Wenger. I'm the executive director. I was hired in January of this year. So, you know, nothing like baptism, like fire, you know? Yeah , definitely . But I was actually born and raised here. Right. You know, I was born at st Mary's and I grew up, I was a Clifton kiddo and , um , you know, I I'm kind of split my time. I , uh, had a , I was a child of divorce. So I spent most of my time with my father who was upper middle class. But when I came to visit my mom here in town, she was a single mom working with with very little education. And so we often relied on food pantry programs. And so it's very near and dear to my heart. I've been working in food security and nonprofit and the public sector for a little over a decade. Now , um, after college I was a peace Corps volunteer. And so I did food security work in West Africa, living off the grid with subsistence farmers for three years. And I decided after that, I really wanted to come home and work on hunger issues right here in my own backyard. So I'm thrilled to be a part of such a great team and such a rich history in our community. Yeah. I have goosebumps what a great story. Thanks.

Speaker 1:

Thank you. Um, so let's go back to Biff and talk a little bit about the history of the food bank, because it's been in existence for what'd you say, 38 years here, 42 years in our community. That's so how did it get started?

Speaker 2:

Well, it started in first Presbyterian church in the basement of the first Presbyterian church when they were located , uh, we're on North North Avenue. Uh, and they moved a couple of times since then. Uh, but , uh, it was a , uh , it was just an all volunteer operation and they had about eight volunteers , uh, and they did food drives. They had very little capital to speak up and it was primarily for the parishioners of the first Presbyterian church. And over the first 10 years that expanded and it included everybody, but the mission was the working poor and that's where, that's where we started to expand. Um, we've moved six times in the 42 years

Speaker 1:

and , and due to necessity mostly, or, I mean , needing to expand

Speaker 2:

we've we would expand. And then we also would lose our, our location. Uh , we had landlords and , uh , they would have other plans just like the County building. The County was gracious enough to give us a very low rent, 10,000 square foot facility , uh, for , uh, almost six years. So there was a big uproar when they, when they decided to repurpose that building and they, they asked us to leave, but you have to realize that for, for six years we paid minimal, I mean, way below market value for that facility. And we had no overhead , uh, we had no utilities. Uh, we had , uh , a truck and , uh , we were able to do our mission there , uh , over the past, I'd say five years. And I'm talking before COVID , uh, our, our mission expanded and we got, we had more clients coming in and we made a very conscious effort to do a community outreach. Here's who we are, here's what we do. And , uh , there was a perception of the community food bank and being something like Catholic outreach, which, which does a fabulous job for the homeless. And that's not what we do, although if you're homeless or if you're anybody, if you walk in our door, you're leaving with food. So we don't, there's no, there's no qualification for getting food from us. We give it to who comes in the door. Um , we have in the past restricted your visit to nine visits a year, and a visit gives you three meals a day for three days for you and every member of your family. Um, we know that that system works because our average client comes to us three and a half times a year. They get the food, they are able to make ends meet. They get back on their feet and they're successful. Many of those people that we've served at the community food bank come back and volunteer. If you go into our, into our volunteer base, you'll see those people are appreciative. And that's why that's what we did .

Speaker 1:

Fantastic. Thank you, Beth. So Alisha, over to you , um, tell us about how things have changed. I mean, you said , uh, you just got thrown right in and absolutely crazy time and the food bank was already busy. Right. Uh , but what has happened? Tell, talk a little bit about what was going on as you came in in January and then how things have changed in the last couple of months. Yeah. That's,

Speaker 4:

that's a great way to frame it, Christie . Um, so I, when I was brought in, I had already moved out West out here. We wanted to get out of Denver and it was always my dream to live in Palisade. And I was just doing freelance consulting work. And then when I saw this job come up, it was like too good to be true. And luckily the board agreed and hired me on. And so I was specifically hired on because we were in this growth pattern, we're going into a new strategic plan to , to , you know , how to have a roadmap moving forward for the next three to five years and probably do I'm a capital campaign so that we could have a permanent home. And I think Karen, we'll talk more about that later, but , um , I have a wealth of experience as a fundraiser and a grant writer doing strategic planning, doing these sorts of projects. Um, and then with my, with my background in food security work, it was a natural fit. Um, and so we were just like, I was just sort of getting my bearings. I think I was about 60 days in , um, and luckily I was able to pull on all of those experiences and , and I'm a firm believer in right person right place. And I don't want to lie. It's been, it's been a heck of a rollercoaster ride , um, with COVID, but I have nothing, no way to know ,

Speaker 1:

learn a job in and out like pandemic. Oh my gosh. So I probably did, we

Speaker 4:

would have taken, you know, six months to a year to onboard and complete strategic planning in a very tight timeframe. And so , um, you know, I'd say for me, it was right about March 16th is I think that was a couple days after the pandemic was , um, announced. And then we were sort of all of a sudden, I think we were putting in safety precautions starting on the 12th, but then all of a sudden it became very clear by the 16th that we had to really kind of really re re envision how we do things at the food bank. Um, like Beth said, we were, we're in a smaller building, it's a rental building. And so , um , normally even under normal conditions, our intake office is really tight and cramped , um, with clients. And then we have to intake volunteers as well. And then , um, the fortunate thing is that because of the way our building was tight and small and set up people needed to drive around the back to get their food box anyway. So we did have that going for us when we moved to a full drive up only model where essentially we reversed our system. And , um , we put the interviewer myself. I did , um, I think just the last couple of weeks, I've started being able to pull myself off the floor of doing all the intakes myself and feeling comfortable, having a volunteer, take that over where essentially people just drive around our building. Now we meet them outside. We talked to them, their car from a safe distance. Um, we've reduced some of our restrictions in some of our intake process just because we had to move pretty quickly.

Speaker 1:

Right. Or else you'd have a line of cars down the street. Yeah.

Speaker 4:

Um, the first couple of weeks, I I'm, I've been saying so, so essentially it was a very insurmountable, perfect storm. As people saw all over the nation food banks and food pantries have been dealing with. So we had to deal with , um, a surge in demand. And then also most of us rely on , um, wonderful core of volunteers here firmly in the at risk category. So I think we lost over 90% of our volunteers overnight. And then we also had to redesign the entire intake process. And then also I think the sleeper, the sleeper challenge was the food supply. Um, so as we saw in grocery stores, all of us, you know, just general consumers, the food supplies and the food system in this country is very delicate. And it was just stressed more than I think it's ever been stressed. And so we collectively, I hope have learned a lot of lessons. Some of that was not a big surprise to me, which is the part of the reason why I'm in this line of work. Um, and so it's still not the same. We're still really struggling. We , um , normally rely on food drives and donations from the public make up about half of our monthly food inventory. And so we had to cut that

Speaker 1:

because I read on your website, you're not accepting food donations from the public right now, correct? Because of safety.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. We're just really trying to limit , uh , well, first of all, they wouldn't have been able to anyway, a lot of like a lot of times when we do food drives, we go to the grocery stores, people buy extra and all of the grocery stores were on allocation. So there was no extra canned goods. I'm sure everybody remembers just a few weeks ago when those Isles were empty. And so it was kind of turned on its head. We ended up getting a bunch of fresh produce milk and meat rescued from restaurants at first service restaurants. And so we were getting a lot of produce rescued from restaurants that had shut down and we had to move it pretty quickly. And then now we're , we're in a position where the government is trying to pull some things together to rescue some product from farmers across the country. So , um, we're seeing more of that, but that in its own right has its own set of challenges. We just, we don't have a walking cooler or freezer. So right now we've had to rent a refrigerated truck in order to maintain food safety.

Speaker 1:

This is really amazing because I think everybody could kind of imagine that you all have had an increase in need and that you're busy, but all the other layers that go along with this pandemic are just crazy. And have you slept at all in the last month, two months, four weekends this no more. And it felt really nice. Um, so I put out quite a few fires today, but you know, it's worth it a little bit arrest and

Speaker 4:

I love this work. And so I'm , I'm one of those people that I just really felt like I was in the right place at the right time, but it continues. I think for a lot of folks, things are quote unquote back to some sort of normal, whereas it's going to be months and months and months until we get back to some kind of baseline.

Speaker 1:

Well, there's like you said, it's , um , for people that are maybe working and maybe they've been furloughed or some other kind of jobs situation and they're on the brink and they need a little bit of help to get by , uh , there's gotta be a lot of people in this community that are faced with that right now.

Speaker 4:

We've really seen it run the gamut. I think over the last two months, it's been about two months, I think since March 16th. And so I want to say the first five or six weeks we were seeing almost triple or normal numbers. Um, and then it's really evened out to about double , um, from 2019 numbers. And part of that is we launched a new program in the middle of all this. It started becoming very clear that people couldn't make it to us and they were on lockdown or self quarantined or in really vulnerable populations. And so we launched a food box delivery program working with partner agencies, and we're doing a right around 200 to 250 households a week with that. So that puts us at double just between that our drive up hours and our food box delivery program. It's, it's still immense. Wow,

Speaker 1:

amazing. So , um, Karen , um , Alisha mentioned that , um, you're been looking for a more permanent home because you've been renting this and you have some needs as far as , um, coolers and things like that. So can you talk at all about the future of the food bank?

Speaker 3:

Well, I could talk a little bit about it, but , um, it did become apparent through , I mean, when Alisha was on the floor and handling all that stuff, I mean just the size of the warehouse and what we could have on hand when we came into this pandemic, made it very clear to us that had, we had a bigger area to store food. We could have at least come into the beginning of it, a little better situated. It got a little hectic there and bank of the rock. Oh my gosh, it got really crazy trying to get ahold of food. And this girl right here, I mean, I think wonder woman was really created after her. She have no , I'm serious. Amazing, amazing. Right. So yeah, I'm super excited not only to be involved, but yeah, I'm a realtor. So , um, I'm getting to get out there , um , and be very involved in a search for a new home that is not just going to provide more storage for food, but a better facility for intake and, and providing some other, I'm not going to give anything away, but some other little things that, that we want to be able to offer as services to folks that come in. And do you think you'll keep up with the delivery service or will that go away?

Speaker 4:

You know , Christie , that's a really good question. And I think right now we're at this nexus of like what was before, and I don't think there's any going back to normal. Um, at least for us , um, it it's a whole new world that we're kind of living in. And so I think that the delivery service wasn't need before COVID we probably got four to five or more calls a week of people who weren't able to make it to us. And depending on their situation, I often would do those deliveries myself. And so I think we're thrilled. It's kind of born out of necessity that we were able to really quickly pull something together. We're trying to tune that up a little bit now and see what that looks like. Um, some of it is grant funded and it's for the short term. And then I think w as a group and with the board and in our wonderful volunteer drivers as well, trying to figure out what that looks like and what the need is as we continue to evolve. But I think we would love to keep a portion of that for sure.

Speaker 1:

I know we in our business and real estate business, we have been looking at the efficiencies that we put into place , uh , in order to serve our clients better and thinking about how can we still keep the great customer service of an in person meeting with some of the efficiencies that we gained and the time saving that we gained with some of the , um, video and virtual things that we were doing online. So, yeah, it's , it's interesting to try to come out of this with some new ways of doing things that benefit everybody. Um, Beth , maybe you could talk to us about , um, funding. How does the community food bank get funded?

Speaker 2:

Uh , well we have , uh , of course we don't get any government funding. We don't , uh , we never have , uh , and nor do we get state funding. Uh, however, we , uh, we, we go out and , um , uh, solicit donations , uh, from businesses , uh, from churches. Uh, we have the outreach program that does that , uh, and from individuals and , uh, this is a extremely charitable community. We live in as, you know, fantastic people that have kept us afloat for 42 years. And, and this pandemic , uh, has really been a boon with regard to content finance , financial contributions. Uh, people see the national news, they see the lines in Dallas and they do the arithmetic in their head and they realize , well, I'm going to help my local community food bank. And that's us, we're the, we're the community food bank in grand junction. And we've been very fortunate because they have, they have really stepped forward and provided a lot of money that the , uh , not having food drives , uh, food giants or the it's the base of all community, food banks, everybody doesn't. And we'd like to have people doing the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, rotary , the lions , everyone does food drives. It's not a really efficient process. It compared to casts because we can buy three more with a dollar than the average citizen. So we reboot, we really want cash, but you have to be very careful how you word that because you never want to discourage, you don't want to do anything away that this is the face of the people who support us the most. Um, and so we have been doing well financially. Uh, I can tell you that there were times eight years ago when we didn't have any money. We were, we looked at a couple of times about, are we going to have to close our doors? When we left the community , uh, the , the County building, we seriously considered the options of having to close our doors, maybe set it out for a year, figure out what we're gonna do and come back. Well , we've, we've gone far beyond that. We have a very efficient board. Uh, we have a great executive director now, and I've got to tell you something sometime there's a silver line when you go to war or when you face a pandemic, because it creates the necessity to have to do other things. We had a really smooth running organization for many, many years. We had a great executive director in Marsha Festiva, and we were rolling along , uh, this is, this tragedy has forced us to do other things. And who's , as you were alluding to, we're going to find out that maybe there's a better way to do it. We were very comfortable with our business model. We're finding a better way to provide food to people who need it. And that's really the silver lining of this if there is one.

Speaker 1:

Wow. So , um, Alicia, you mentioned that the, the need and the numbers of , um, meals that you were handing out tripled for a little while, but, and I don't know if you said how many meals that is. I mean, what at the height, how many people were you feeding a week?

Speaker 4:

Right. So I'm at our height. So I have it by months . So in March we did about 760 households. Um, for , I want to say 2,400 individuals. And we are , our average numbers are about 1500 individuals , um, a month. And so in April we did a 1200 household distribution. So food box distributions for about 2,400 people and over 600 food box deliveries with 40% people being new. So , um, you know, I think that's , it's, it's hitting about double, like I said, our , our normal average numbers and , um, it's about 14,000 meals in April alone. And so to give you some perspective, just with one of our food box delivery programs , uh , one partner, which we're doing about 140 food boxes a week for about 650 individuals a week going from 1500 individuals on average a month. So , um , you know, I I'd say double is , is , um, like some of those are our , we're getting them food consistently, so they're not new every single distribution, but we go off of food box and how many, you know, essentially meals that we're providing for people in need.

Speaker 1:

And yet your volunteer pool was cut way down. So how did you handle the staffing?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, that that's been a challenge. Um, you know, let's say for a woman and she's got eight arms, I certainly cannot take the credit. I mean, I, yes, I was working in over overdrive, but also we have some really amazing , um, diehard volunteers who stuck with us through and through that, I just knew I could count on that. We're going to help the, be the bones of , of the structure. And then we had just like Biff was talking about the generosity of our community. Not only in donations, I mean, Christi Reece has donated. Um, the GJ strong fund gave us a really significant grant CDBG from the city just gave us, I mean, I could just go, I could just list on and on all of those groups that normally do food drives for us really stepped up and did cash donations when they could. And then volunteers really came flooding to us. And some of those were people who were furloughed or at work, you know, working from home, had extra time and decided to step up and serve. And some of those folks are now we're kind of in the tricky bit because some of those folks are not available anymore, but I still can't welcome in our, at our higher risk volunteers. So now , um, we have two wonderful new part time staff , um, folks who were , um, previous volunteers who were just there already every day , um, volunteering. And so it was easy to pay them for that work and enjoy and , and welcome them onto our staff. And so I think we're , we're, we're digging out and we're, and we're getting there and we've got a great new team put together.

Speaker 1:

So I'd like to ask all of you , um, if you want to share the microphone , um, what do you think your most immediate needs are right now? I mean, obviously cash , um, but, and volunteers, I mean, what can people do to help besides writing a check or coming down to volunteer or anything else? Well,

Speaker 2:

those are the two primary things, but of course, in order to, to , uh , paradigm the success of what we've done is people who want to volunteer need to spread that word to their friends, that we need volunteers, we need drivers , uh, that will never go away. And as we expand, and hopefully when we have a new building that meets the requirements of a , of a really first class operational and food bank , uh, we're going to need more volunteers. We're going to need drivers. We're going to need trucks. So those things never go away as you get more successful in helping people who need it , uh, you're going to have more resources that you need. Uh, so that's what I would say when I go on the radio and I talk about what do you need? I say, we need volunteers. Um , when I say that people kind of understand that we need cash and we do we'll always need cash. So those are the two things I think we need. And when we get a new building and we need that , uh , that can come about because we have the cash available to make a down payment and move in , uh, and not have to worry about a landlord that lives in New York. Um , and you not knowing what's going to happen because he has a built, the building we're in now , uh , is owned by one landlord. And there are a number of different buildings , uh, businesses in there, and he's expanding his business. So he'd liked nothing better than to have our , he's not going to kick us out in the near term, but he's wants to expand. And he'd like to have our forest space . So that makes us think that we need to be seriously looking for a building and we are

Speaker 1:

great. And I had the opportunity to come tour the facility that you're in now and what an amazing place with not a very big footprint, you have managed to make it really efficient. And , um , I have not volunteered yet. I'm embarrassed to say, like, as soon as I saw your operation, I was like, I've got to get down there and volunteer, and I haven't made it yet, but , uh, I look forward to doing that. And , um, Karen, do you want to talk a little bit more about the current setup in there and how easy it is for people to volunteer and what it's like to be a volunteer there? Because I think some people , uh, it , it's not like what you would consider a soup kitchen. No, you're not serving hot meals.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And when you get down to the nitty gritty and the workings of the floor, I'm going to let Alicia tell you because she just lived it. But, you know, I just, I did want to say just quickly, you just said, I haven't had the chance to volunteer. You know, there are two kinds of people who give generously to things like this. And there are a lot of people they're super busy and what they do is they give money and some people think, well, if you give your time, it means more. And that is just absolutely not the case. We absolutely love having people come down and we've, I know my church has come down to help deliver food boxes to families, but I got to tell you when that cash comes in, we are able to then turn it around and get three times the food, as much as we love people going to the store and hand the food off to us, which we can't take right now, right now , cash is a huge thing. So there's nothing to be. I mean, right. We just got money from the Christi Reece Group for the food bank. And

Speaker 1:

we see , as you all have the relationship set up that your , your money goes a long way.

Speaker 3:

Yes, that's great. Um, okay. W what

Speaker 4:

really quickly Christiana , please say, I'm checking our website and our social media is the best way to find out about our needs as they continue to evolve. That's the fastest way I can update what our needs are. We've got a new website that's pretty snappy and a great new volunteer management system and a really streamlined process. And wondering may our volunteer coordinator is fantastic. She makes it really easy. I would say just don't you don't need the gym. If you come and volunteer at the , at the community, it's a good workout. It's good workout. Lots of lifting. So tell us the name of the website so people can find it www.food bank, gj.org. Okay. And the Facebook page. It's food bank GJ, right ? CFB , GJ, sorry.

Speaker 1:

Okay. CFP GJ. Awesome. Um, so in wrapping up, what would you like our community to know about your organization? Are there , um, do you think that people have , um, ideas about it that that are misconceptions or , um, you know, is it just, do you want people to know how much heart is there? I mean, what is it that you want to share with our community about this wonderful organization? I think Karen and I know what you do and are amazed at how you do it. Um, and there there's a lot of love and a lot of , uh , generosity there, but what do you want people to know? Yeah, I think

Speaker 4:

the biggest thing, Christi is the stigma as somebody growing up, who's had to use those programs. The stigma is real, and it's, it sticks with you also. Um, and I know a lot of people out there who could probably use the help don't want to come. It's really difficult to , um, acknowledge if and when you need assistance. And, you know, I think really when it comes down to it, we're there because nobody should have to , um, make the choice between paying their bills or fixing their car and , and feeding their family and putting new, good, nutritious food on the table. I think another misconception of, of food pantries and food banks is that it's a lot of junk and we work really hard to make sure that we have , um, nutritionally sound, food boxes , um, and do our best to meet nutritional guidelines. And so I think you talked a lot about the heart. There's so much heart. And , um, when people come in, we've tried to make it as quick and painless as possible, as far as, you know, coming in, we get you what you need and you're on your way so that you can move on and live with your live your life and, and get back to what you need to be doing and focusing on.

Speaker 1:

Oh , wonderful. Karen, do you like to chime in on that?

Speaker 3:

I think the heart of the community, I mean, I am absolutely amazed, especially during this time each week, you know, we get an update from Alisha of what the community has done in response to this. It is absolutely mind boggling. You know, everybody's going through a tough time. I mean, I've had elderly people give their entire stimulus that they got to the food bank because they said, you know what, I'm fine right now. So I'm going to give this to somebody else. So just the outreach on the community has absolutely been my motto . That's just, that's awesome. So what would you like people to know Beth ? Well, again, I think at the volunteers and I think of a couple of Christmases ago, and it was snowing and cold and nasty outside, and the line , uh, in the , from the door back then, we were going in, the walking here , uh, went around the building and it was nasty out there. So we , um, Marsha said, maybe we can get some coffee. So we ran out and got a bunch of totes from Starbucks and provided coffee for everybody there. We put up tents and everybody

Speaker 2:

who came through there was appreciative . Nobody complained nobody had, and it was cold and nasty out. And it was a lot , some of them have stayed in line for a long time. And there were elderly people out there. People are wheelchairs and nobody complained and it just shows the heart of our community. And of course our volunteers are right out there with them and , and our volunteers are, I'm going to tell you right now over 65 is an understatement. And everybody's in there contributing. We have, and I've said this before, we have a , uh , one volunteer who is 94 years old and , and never misses her Fridays

Speaker 1:

turn 100. Oh, she did.

Speaker 4:

We sent her flowers on last Wednesday. She turned 100,

Speaker 2:

excuse me, I've been here, Tom [inaudible] . And of course we, we presented her with a , an award at our, at our , our last big fundraiser at CMU. And it's amazing. And she wouldn't have it any other way. And by the way, she shows up dressed to the nines. Cause she doesn't like dressing down she's styling. But th th that's what I would say. Um, the attitude and the heart of our volunteers and the willingness of our , um , clients to come back and give back is heartwarming.

Speaker 1:

Hmm . Alisha, didn't you say that the police department volunteered to come and direct the traffic when it was going miles around the building?

Speaker 4:

I could probably talk for hours just saying thank you to everyone. Um, I it's it's and, and I think what we would tell people is that we're working on it and it just is like an appropriate way that we can acknowledge everyone. I'm hoping we can get all of that up on our website. So everybody, you know, knows how much this community cares. And yeah, I mean, those, those, those new cat newscasts, we had a couple of our own , uh, the last day of March, we served an all time record and in our 42 years of existence, and , um, there were multiple newscasters and Mo and the police showed up. And then , uh, for, I think, two weeks past that , um, they checked in on us every day just to make sure we had traffic control. And those , the grand junction parks department actually showed up every day for a couple of weeks and helped us monitor traffic and direct traffic.

Speaker 1:

Amazing. Yeah, that's fantastic. You are really one of the hearts of the community and we thank you so much for everything that you do, everyone at the food bank and the three of you, especially thank you for being here today. We are happy to be able to share your story with the community of grand junction so that more people can know about it. More people can volunteer and more people can give what they can give at this time and help those in need. So thank you so much for being here today. We appreciate you. Alright . This is Christi Reece, checking out. Thanks for listening.