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Mount Si food bank seeks new expertise Gergasko to hand off top job

Gail Gergasko pauses for a moment in the midst of Wednesday’s weekly food distribution at the Mount Si Helping Hand Food Bank. She plans to continue her volunteer work through special food bank projects. - Jenny Manning / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Gail Gergasko pauses for a moment in the midst of Wednesday’s weekly food distribution at the Mount Si Helping Hand Food Bank. She plans to continue her volunteer work through special food bank projects.
— image credit: Jenny Manning / Snoqualmie Valley Record

After three years in the top job, Gail Gergasko says it’s time for new blood at the Mount Si Helping Hand Food Bank.

“We want to keep it fresh,” she said of her recent choice to step down as the North Bend food bank’s coordinator and allow another person with new ideas in to run the show.

The change in position won’t be easy for Gergasko, who has served as the food bank’s coordinator for the last three years.

“It’s kind of emotional, but it’s time to give someone else a shot at running the place,” she said of her decision to step down. “It’s a personal commitment. I’ve gotten really connected to all the different people and learned a lot about their lives.”

Gergasko learned of the opportunity to volunteer with the food bank through her church, Our Lady of Sorrows. Nine years later, her volunteerism remains strong.

In the meantime, the food bank is looking for someone to fill Gergasko’s coordinator role. The position includes much of the daily operations and behind the scenes duties including finances, inventory, maintenance and working with the ministries association.

“I’m not walking away,” Gergasko said. Instead, she’s already planning special projects in conjunction with the food bank and the local ministerial association.

“We have a lot of kids on the free and reduced lunch program in our schools,” she said. “What do those kids do during the summer?”

Gergasko hopes that this project, among others she has in mind, will help needy North Bend residents and their families continue to make ends meet.

Fellow volunteers admire Gergasko’s dedication to the food bank.

“She’s a hard worker, and efficient,” fellow volunteer Len Mattson said.

Busy bank

Interest in the food bank continues to grow in North Bend. Although personal donations have decreased, Gergasko said, donations from the city of North Bend and Snoqualmie are on the rise.

The building, housed in a former garage and storage area of North Bend Community Church, was recently renovated to add additional space. Increasing from 950 to 1,400 square feet has helped volunteers to accommodate growing local interest in the food bank’s weekly food distribution, which takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

A record number of people visited the food bank the last week of August, said Gergasko. While numbers fluctuate from week to week, she has noticed a marked increase in the amount of people seeking assistance.

To keep up with demand, the food bank is organizing a board of directors who will oversee food bank operations. Community members with legal or financial expertise are especially needed, Gergasko said.

“It’s like running a small business,” she added.

The most important criteria is that the new board members have an interest, concern and passion for the food bank.

The board will help the food bank stay on course and grow wisely in the years ahead, as demand is expected to increase.

“The food bank is getting pretty large,” Gergasko said. “The board will help to give it structure and go in the right direction in the coming years.”

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