Letters to the Editor

Good Cheer Capital Campaign goal is met | LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

Heartfelt thanks to all who contributed to Good Cheer Food Bank & Thrift Stores’ capital campaign, especially those who donated to Whidbey Island Bank’s recently completed Community Challenge, which raised a total $31,240. Special commendations go to Whidbey Island Bank branch managers Anne Bobinac (Freeland) and Pam Bickel (Langley) who spearheaded this effort.

The good news: We have finally reached our goal of $1.4 million which includes cash received, pledges remaining to be paid this year, and in-kind donations.

More than 419 individuals contributed to the campaign with donations ranging from a high of $118,000 to the $1 bill mailed in by a young girl who wanted to do her part. Fifteen foundations made grants totaling $375,000, and, despite the tough economy, 26 local businesses and service organizations donated more than $200,000 to the campaign. Members of Good Cheer’s board opened their checkbooks and donated more than $367,000, on top of many hours of volunteer labor and consultation.

It was a long campaign, longer than we had anticipated. This was due in part to an unexpected and lasting recession, and the passing of two fine gentlemen: campaign consultant Dick Collins and campaign co-chair Jack Hoover. The bad economy resulted in record-breaking numbers of people seeking food assistance, which posed a bit of a challenge as increased funds for food purchases were needed at the same time. (Client numbers remain high, with more than 800 families a month accessing the food bank.)

The South Whidbey community proved to be up to this challenge, however, and due to your generosity, the Bayview facility opened in October 2007 during Phase I of the campaign. It houses a regionally recognized model food bank for which the entire community can be proud, and is evidence that South Whidbey, indeed, “takes care of its own.” Quite frankly, without the new Bayview facility, we could not have met the need — there simply was not enough space at the back of the Langley Thrift Store (the food bank’s former home).

After debt on the Bayview facility was paid off in 2009, attention turned to completing Phase II, the renovation of Good Cheer’s flagship funding source, Langley Thrift Store. Though the plans underwent changes in scope, the Langley store now has additional retail space, a new furnace, updated electrical wiring and enhanced firewalls, new interior paint and carpeting, plus a needed back stairwell. An elevator will be installed this autumn, after the busy tourist season.

As anyone who has done a remodel knows, there are always additional tasks which become apparent during the process, which is why, even though the capital campaign goal has been reached, we are still accepting donations. If you have been blessed financially, please consider making a donation.

So many people helped with the campaign that space does not permit naming them all, but a special word of thanks goes to Marion Henny of Whidbey Telecom for serving on the campaign’s “kitchen cabinet” and for hosting an evening fundraiser; to Britt Fletcher and Jim Halfaker for ad-hoc assistance; and to Aggie Sweeney and Natalie Lamberjack of the Collins Group, who volunteered time and expertise in honor of their firm’s founder, the late Dick Collins.

Though the campaign is completed, the day-to-day work of community volunteers continues at the food bank, item donation/distribution center, and the thrift stores. We thank you all, and are awed at your dedication to make South Whidbey truly and forever a “hunger-free” community.

BOB OLSON

Good Cheer Campaign Chair

L. JAY RYAN

Good Cheer Board President

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