ShareNet & You

On Jan. 26, ShareNet held its annual volunteer luncheon at Bayside Community Church to honor the volunteers who supported us in 2008. We were fortunate to have great weather and the use of Bayside’s huge lobby space for the dining and buffet tables. About 40 people including ShareNet staff and our board of directors turned out for delicious meatloaf, roasted vegetables, cold salads, and cheesecake prepared by Russ Addy. His son Kyle assisted, and Bob, Vallyn, and Dean Henderson also helped in the kitchen and with serving. This was a rare opportunity for us to break bread and interact personally outside of the context where we usually see each other (at the food bank and thrift store).

After lunch, we did a little business and went over ShareNet’s year-end statistics and report, and let the volunteers know how much they contributed to our success in 2008 in providing emergency services to about 80 percent more people than the year before. The volunteers absorbed this increase with their usual dedication and skill, and hardly any complaining. Each of our managers had a chance to thank the volunteers and let them know what they meant to their part of the operation.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our operation, and it’s just a simple fact that ShareNet and similar organizations could not run without them. Please contact us about openings for specific functions such as county-wide pickup of our bread donations, office assistance, web design and maintenance, or the upcoming Grocery Rescue program. Grocery Rescue is offered by our coalition partner Food Lifeline and allows local stores to safely donate items they can no longer use. While many stores already have an informal relationship in place with their area food banks, others are more comfortable with a standardized program, and Food Lifeline has partnered with Albertsons corporate to make our local partner the Kingston Albertsons. We have a need for pickup of the Grocery Rescue donations and these volunteers must obtain or have a food handler’s permit and be willing to participate in some additional training.

ShareNet is more involved than ever with affiliate social services throughout Kitsap County, achieving a successful integration with these services over the course of 2008. We are now on everyone’s list and we have a name and service recognition throughout the county. This raised profile means ShareNet is able to draw more support than previously, but also that more people seek us out for assistance. In order to disburse our non-food emergency assistance funds to the best of our ability, we have partnered with St. Vincent de Paul’s local chapter, which will qualify applicants on our behalf. Because we would like to help as many people as possible, guidelines have been established to determine level of need, allowable amount and frequency. Our goal is assistance that targets a specific, short-term problem and solves it, not a bandage or something that is relied upon season after season, or bill after bill.

Another example of our community partnerships is with the free clothing bank at St. Charles Anglican Church in Poulsbo. We realized we frequently had an overflow of clothing donations that were already processed but remained unsold through our thrift store, so we formed a relationship with the clothing bank and are now able to give them items we cannot use. We did the same for a local tribal foster care program. Likewise SVDP is now accessing our funds and helping us with the qualification process, just as the Bellringers program lightened our load by taking about 20 of our holiday box recipients off our hands at Christmas. This is a perfect example of how various social services work together in patchwork and meet needs government and those in crisis cannot. It’s not always smooth sailing but, in many instances, it gets the job done.

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