Fighting hunger: Mount Si Helping Hand Food Bank is Snoqualmie Valley's top non-profit

Dozens of Mount Si Helping Hand Food Bank volunteers, such as Iris Guilian, help sort, serve and transport food each week for thousands of local residents. - Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo
Dozens of Mount Si Helping Hand Food Bank volunteers, such as Iris Guilian, help sort, serve and transport food each week for thousands of local residents.
— image credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

While most Valley residents take their next meal for granted, every week, thousands of locals depend on the generosity of others to stave off hunger.

The Upper Valley’s food bank, Mount Si Helping Hand, helps about 380 families each week, roughly 1,200 individuals, of whom 28 percent are children and 13 percent are seniors. Their efforts netted Valley Record reader approval as the top local non-profit for 2011.

Food Bank Manager Heidi Dukich started volunteering at the charity five years ago, assuming the part-time head spot in 2001. She answered questions about Helping Hand:

What are your priorities?

The food bank’s primary function is to provide food to individuals and families in need in the Snoqualmie Valley. Making connections within the community and bringing awareness about the needs in our community is also a priority.

Beyond providing food, we have an opportunity and a moral responsibility to provide additional assistance by bringing resources to the food bank to assist our clients such as the Department of Health, DSHS, Worksource and a nutrition specialist. Our purpose is to provide food as well as opportunities for our struggling neighbors to improve their current situation.

What is something you do that might surprise people?

Many first-time clients or volunteers are surprised by the quality of food that we provide. Our focus is to provide nutritious, healthy options. We purchase fresh produce and dairy each week from local distributors.  A healthy diet will directly impact how children grow and learn and how adults and seniors function.

Why do people want to be part of the team?

Food bank volunteers are like a family. Our volunteers come to the food bank with open hearts, and in their act of giving they are rewarded with kindness from the other volunteers and the gratitude from our neighbors in need.

The environment at the food bank is friendly, accepting and engaging. I continue to be overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of our volunteers—they are a gift to me and the community and I absolutely adore them.

What’s the top goal for 2011? How can others make it a reality?

Our goal for 2011 is to reach more people in need within the Snoqualmie Valley. Currently, we are serving the people that come to us.  My concern is that there are people in our community who are in need and are not able to get to the food bank or do not come because they do not think they are eligible, or perhaps their pride gets in their way. I would encourage neighbors to look out for each other. If you think someone could benefit from receiving our help, please reach out to them. Hunger is painful and unnecessary.

What does this nomination mean to you

I am thankful that our community is aware of the work that we are doing at the food bank. This means to me that our neighbors recognize the significance and the impact that our service has on the community’s overall health. Taking care of our neighbors benefits everyone.

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