Birch Bay volunteer receives lifetime achievement award

By Stefanie Donahue

After racking up more than 10,400 hours of service with the Blaine Food Bank, local resident Richard Love is being honored with the U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award for lifetime achievement.

volunteer

Birch Bay resident Richard Love was recently honored with the U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award for lifetime achievement. He racked up more than 10,400 hours as a volunteer with the Blaine Food Bank. Photo by Stefanie Donahue.

The award follows Love’s October announcement ending his service with the organization after more than a decade. As he approaches his 97th birthday, he fondly recalls his time as a volunteer, which played a pervasive role in his life
after retirement.

“They’ve got a good system down in Blaine,” he said. “It’s wonderful to work someplace like that.”

For years, Love arose well before sunrise, revved up the engine on his white truck and started driving – as a volunteer, he was often responsible for picking up donations from around town, delivering foodstuffs to families in need and sorting items for pick-up at the Blaine Food Bank, located on C Street. To say the least, he was a busy guy.

In all, the local food bank serves an average of 400 families – or 1,500 individuals – on a weekly basis, dispersing more than 20,000 pounds of foodstuffs. According to staff, the branch is serving 100 more families than it did in the previous year.

Love and his wife of almost 50 years, Lonna, moved to Blaine in 2002 from Newport, Washington to be closer to family. Previously, Love spent 43 years operating vehicles at a trucking firm out of Portland, Oregon.

Following his career behind the wheel, he spent many hours in Blaine working in hand with local managers, grocery store staff and the droves of community members in need of food each day.

Love spoke fondly of the many friendships he made with folks from around the community through his service.

“[Love] had high praise for the wonderful folks who’ve volunteered with him at the food bank,” read a statement released by The Volunteer Center of Whatcom County.

The honor bestowed to Love just days after his announcement to end his service is rare – especially in Whatcom County. Former Blaine resident Bert Isackson is the only other volunteer to receive the nomination in Whatcom County’s history, according to The Volunteer Center of Whatcom County.

Year-round, the President’s volunteer service award is granted to children under the age of 14 who have completed 50 or more hours of service; ages 15 and older who have completed 100 or more hours; and families who have completed 200 or more hours. Lifetime achievement awards are granted to those who’ve provided more than 4,000 hours of service.

And for Love, his service may never end. He still plans to pick up bags from time to time, but can’t continue his 4 a.m. volunteer ritual each day.

“It’s hard to give up,” he said.

The organization accepts monetary donations in person at its location at 500 C Street in Blaine. Checks or cash can also be mailed to P.O. Box 472.

Non-perishable food items, including baby products and pet food, are accepted. Love also encourages the public to donate plastic bags to help with packaging and delivery.

To learn more about the Blaine Food Bank, call 360/332-6350.

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