Orting: The best volunteer community I have ever known
By Pat Wilson
I have lived in a great many places throughout my life (70+ years) and seen a lot of people who give their all for their community, but Orting I believe has them all beat for volunteerism. For the past 21 years I have been involved with the people of this little City. I have worked with city officials, churches, business and civic associations; people have not always agreed, but over and over I have watched them put their differences aside and work for the good of the community. Knowing how differences can tear a community apart, this is extremely heartening.
At the recent dinner sponsored by the Orting Senior Center, name after name were called forth to honor people who were an out-standing example of giving their time, energy, and expertise for the good of Orting. The theme of the dinner was well named, “What’s Right About Orting.”
I now work with what I believe is the ultimate of volunteerism; The Orting Food Bank.
Our board is a hands-on working board. Each member has extremely busy lives, including family schedules. Two are critical care nurses who care for delicate children in their homes, taking the night duty so they are able to carry a busy Orting Food Bank schedule during the day. Another is the School District Superintendent, one a restaurant owner and a third, a CPA. The work these people put forth for the community would astonish people if they knew all that they do.
The economy has caused an explosion of need in Orting. Two years ago we wrote a grant for a new building for the Orting Food Bank and were fortunate to receive the funding. We spent over a year working to find a building, which was no small feat as there are not that many large empty buildings that could fit our need. Finally the owners of the former Powers Funeral Home agreed to meet our grant budget, and we are now in the process of re-making this building to match our requirements.
Repeatedly, Orting businesses and residents have come forth to supply our food bank with food and supplies, plus contributing to the financial burdens so we can meet the ever-growing needs of our citizens. Volunteers work daily picking up supplies from various points in town, stocking shelves, packing bags for families and giving them out. We have more than 30 volunteers who work on a weekly basis.
A contractor and an engineer have given freely of their time and expertise to help us learn what is right and wrong with the new building. We have to meet the grant guidelines for each scope of work. The grant will not cover all the expenses of making this building occupancy-ready, but the city is working with us in trying to make sure we are able to meet the laws of city, county and state requirements. We are working on another grant, hoping to find more funding to get every area covered.
The food bank is at a critical time. We are receiving only a small portion of the food surplus from government sources that we have received in the past. In addition, families need supplies besides food such as toilet paper, soaps and personal hygiene items, etc. We are no longer able to supply them. Our shelves are close to empty even in the small area we are working in at this time.
I have written all this to say “Thank you” to these Orting volunteers and to let you know about the wonderful people in Orting. But I write also to let you know the need of our citizens is ever-present and rising. Please keep on volunteering, please keep on giving, and please keep on supporting the organizations who work together to make Orting what it is today; a great place to live.
Note by Bev Marshall:
I have known Pat as a friend and coworker for many years. I have never known her to quit until the job is done. Once she undertakes a project, she keeps at it until “all the ducks are in place.” Until the last signature is put on the paper to finish the job and call it complete.
She has been the promoter of several worthwhile projects in the Orting community, which have been a positive endeavor with lasting success. One such task has been the editor of the Orting Gazette newspaper for a number of years. I worked with her on the newspaper and it became a great little paper which the community loved. For health reasons, she had to give it up, but in her “senior” years she doesn’t seem to know the meaning of the word quit or retire – just like the energizer bunny. You can be sure that as long as health permits and there is something that needs to be done, she will be in the middle of it.
Bev Marshall is a regular contributor to the Mountain News and she delivered Pat Wilson’s essay to us a few days ago. Pat’s words are very real as 147,000 residents in Pierce County now receive food stamps or seek food in our 50+ food banks county-wide.
In addition, Orting farmer, Carrie Little grows over 200,000 pounds of organic produce annually for these food banks – all on six acres of Orting’s glorious soil using all-volunteer labor.
Further, we received a notice today via our Facebook account from another concerned community member, Lisa Ramunni Cool, about a related Orting food project. Hence, we include it here as well:
The Feed Orting Project:
Saturday, November 5th from 4-6 pm in the OrtingPark!
If you are hungry or in need, please come on down and have a wonderful HOT meal (BBQ) on us! We would love to see you! Pass it on to anyone you know that might be in need, and/or hungry! The Orting Food Bank and Friends will be hosting this the first Saturday of EVERY month! Rain or shine!!!