Food Bank founder celebrates 100th birthday

By Steve Guntli


For decades, the Blaine Food Bank has provided food to needy families in the community. This week, the food bank’s volunteers Bert_SG-1gathered to honor the man who started it all.

A group of more than a dozen friends and food bank volunteers gathered at Good Samaritan Society-Stafholt to wish Bert Isackson a happy 100th birthday. Isackson co-founded the food bank with his wife, Thelma, nearly 50 years ago.

When the Isacksons were first starting out, the charity group didn’t have a workspace, had very few volunteers and most of the community didn’t even realize local people were in need of food. Whatever food the Isackson’s collected was stored at their house and distributed out of their car.

Isackson has been a steady presence at the food bank ever since. After recently suffering a stroke, however, he has relocated to Stafholt for full-time care. Even still, he manages to inspire the volunteers, who work out of the food bank’s office next door.

“Bert’s been the spirit of the food bank for all of us,” said volunteer Patty Elliott. “We all just love him.”

Sally Church, a volunteer and organizer for the Blaine Food Bank, penned a heartfelt tribute to Isackson on The Volunteer Center of Bert_SG-2Whatcom County’s website.

“It’s absolutely mind-boggling how many millions of pounds of food Bert has loaded and unloaded, sorted and stacked, picked up and distributed over the last 50 years,” she wrote. “His presence inspires the spirit of giving to others in each of us.”

Isackson’s birthday guests presented him with two plaques honoring his lifetime of work, one from The Volunteer Center of Whatcom County, and the other from the city of Blaine.

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