By Stefanie Donahue
Committing thousands of hours to serve the community may sound like a lot to some, but for two longtime Blaine volunteers, it’s seemed like a blip in time.
With a combined 17,180 hours of service completed at the Blaine Food Bank, volunteers Evelyn Bonallo and Jerry Bladies are being honored with The President’s Volunteer Service Award for lifetime achievement on behalf of the Corporation for National and Community Service.
From 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County will host a ceremony to present the awards to both volunteers. More than 200 people are expected to attend the event, located at the Blaine Senior Center, at 763 G Street.
Bonallo’s volunteer work with the Blaine Food Bank dates back to its genesis, when it first began serving the community more than 40 years ago, she said.
Since then, she’s racked up 6,700 hours of service, much of which was spent helping the organization with bookkeeping and administrative services. At age 91, she’s no longer an active volunteer, but often stops by to donate, she said.
With 10,480 hours of service under his belt, Bladies spent about 15 years managing the operation and recalls serving about 75 families a week when he first got started. Since then, it’s expanded tremendously, he said.
According to recent figures, the local food bank serves on average 400 families, or 1,500 individuals, on a weekly basis – more than 20,000 pounds of foodstuffs is dispersed in the process. Last year, the branch reported that it was serving 100 more families that it did the previous year.
Since 1998, the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County has recorded an estimated 194,000 hours of volunteer service.
“The dedicated group of volunteers in the far northwest corner of our state are a model of the change that can be effected by a small group of concerned citizens,” read a statement from the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County. “One user of the Blaine Food Bank shared: ‘It feels good to know that they are there, a source not only of food, but of the best help: good will and encouragement for the heart.’”
To learn more about the Blaine Food Bank, visit bit.ly/2n7XU5F.