Willits Food Bank collecting funds to keep the doors open and services going – The Willits News

Posted: January 23, 2020 at 6:43 pm


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Willits Community Services and Food Bank (WCS) has been helping people in crisis for more than 38 years. And, while WCS distributes bags of food to anyone in need, it also helps provide individuals and families with a safety-net and referrals for those dealing with unemployment, poverty, and many other human conditions. WCS operates with funding from the State of California, Mendocino County and the Ted Erickson Foundation, but also relies heavily on community donations.

Each year WCS holds its Winter Fund Drive with the hope of raising enough money to continue serving the Willits and north county communities, and so far the goal has been met thanks to generous donors. With support from businesses, civic groups, individuals and families, WCS is able to provide essential human services such as food, shelter, utility assistance, transportation, bedding and personal items. With the passing of former WCS director Jim Marill in December 2018, the food bank saw an increase in donations in his name, according to former board member and volunteer, Ruthanne Volz, who is the new executive director.

That was a very challenging time with a lot of lessons and new things to learn all around for everybody, but we still had a very successful Winter Fund Drive last year, said Volz. The Winter Fund Drive really starts when we have our Thanksgiving Community Dinner. She added that the checks kept coming into February and WCS was able to surpass their funding goal of $34,000, which amounts to one third of the food banks annual income. Its been very successful over the years and its important that it stay successful. And, we are blessed to have donors from many parts of the country, not just here.

Although the last year has been an adjustment, two anonymous donors gave a total of $13,900 designated specifically for long-term improvements to the WCS facilities. The funds paid for new inside and outside paint, the installation of a ceiling in the warehouse, dual-pane windows in the front office, a new front door, roof leak repairs and new electrical plugs and switches. In trade for these improvements, our landlady Brenda Walker gave us a low-rent five-year lease on the building that has been our home since 1984, said Volz. Everyone is more comfortable and our participants appreciate the upgrades.

Another improvement will come in the form of a colorful mural painted by Willits High School art students and teacher Carolyn Bakewell with visiting artist Laura Wiesak. A Get Art in Schools Program (GASP) grant will pay for Wiesaks time and the cost of the materials will be funded by a raffle hosted by Marills widow Melinda Clarke. The raffle prize is a gourmet meal for four cooked and served by Clarke. Tickets are available at the food bank office.

WCS Bookkeeper Diana Hoyt said she came on staff after Marills passing to help wherever needed and she loves working at the food bank. Its so nice to be able to do something thats just working so well for our community, and plus the people that are volunteering and work here are just really nice. I look forward to coming here every time. Volz praised Hoyts many contributions saying, I am doing as well as I am because she does whatever is needed. Volz said running a nonprofit is different than anything shes ever done in her career as a social worker and family therapist, but she gets a lot of help. The good news is theres a lot of help and a lot of wise people, and a lot of very kind, compassionate people.

WCS prides itself on providing fresh, organic produce whenever possible, and during the summer, donations are abundant. In 2019, 5,794 pounds of fruits and vegetables was donated to the program by home gardeners, Grateful Gleaners, Frank R. Howard Foundations Commonwealth Garden and the gardens at Golden Rule. During the summertime, a young mother with two small children can in to get food. Following their food distribution, she returned to the front office in tears, her arms overloaded with several bags of food that included abundant, fragrant, fresh organic produce, shared Volz, adding that the woman thanked the staff and told them her family hadnt had so much food in a very long time.

Currently WCS relies on 10 volunteers, six paid employees and many other helpers who lend a hand as needed. To find out more about volunteering and becoming a board member, email Volz at wcsrav4@gmail.com, call the office at (707) 459-3333 or stop by 229 E. San Francisco Street in Willits during office hours: Tuesday 1-5 p.m, and Wednesday and Friday noon to 5 p.m.

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Willits Food Bank collecting funds to keep the doors open and services going - The Willits News

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January 23rd, 2020 at 6:43 pm

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