The Blessing Welcomes Full-Time Manager

FullSizeRenderSue Muschanow has been volunteering at The Blessing since it opened two years ago. She loves serving the people of Tacoma through organizing donations and working with community partners. Recently, she moved into a full-time volunteer position as the head manager. She is excited to devote more time and energy to meeting needs in our community.

How long have you been volunteering full-time at The Blessing?

“It’s been since February… I just started doing more and more and it was a gradual taking on more and more.”

 What has the transition has been like for you?

“It was so gradual, I didn’t even really notice it. Being able to say, ‘I’m doing this full-time’ was good…and now I can focus completely on this and not have to deal with worrying about another job or other things. I can adjust my schedule as I need to rather than having to work around another job.”

Do you enjoy being able to organize the volunteers and donations for the Blessing for each week?

“When we first started, our philosophy was: God provides the food, God provides the people that need the food, and he provides the volunteers. Every week I pray that I’ll have enough food and volunteers, and every week I do.”

Can you describe the process of coming on full-time?

“I’m a missionary to Tacoma, and I’m raising support on my own. I’m using the food bank as an ‘in’ to the [local] churches… We’ve come across a new plan of setting up bins in their lobby to collect food for the Blessing, and we will leave brochures. As they see those, it gives me more of an ‘in’. And the Lord’s providing. I’m not hurting for money at this point. The Lord’s providing what I need.”

How have you seen God working as your provider through this process?

“Just amazing—especially the support of the volunteers showing up. A lot of it’s the same people, but some of them are new people, coming in and being interested. I feel like the Lord’s going to provide the people he wants here. And they’re learning, too. Their faith is growing by watching things happen. It’s an interesting process—[we] pray for someone and have them come back and say their prayer was answered.”

 How can we support you in your full-time ministry?

“Definitely prayer. That’s the biggest thing—is making sure that we have people who are praying for what’s going on. [And] donating—we’re going to try to do an item-focused “Blessing Week” every month at church. The third week of this month, we’re asking everyone to bring a box of pasta. If you’ve got extra stuff, just bring it. And come out and see what we’re doing. Come and see how much fun it really is.”

To learn how to support Sue, visit out support page. She can be reached on her cell phone at 253-678-7826.

Featured Volunteer: Haley Nuttman

Haley enjoys volunteering at the Blessing

Haley enjoys volunteering at the Blessing

Preparing the food bank for opening on Saturday mornings requires an eye for detail and an organized mind. Haley Nuttman, a sophomore at SOTA and regular volunteer at the Blessing, has both. She spends the few rushed minutes before guests arrive sorting through the produce, tossing the spoiled tomatoes and bruised cucumbers into a bucket to throw away. She helps sort the bread into categories—white, wheat, and everything else—and then heads to the bagging table as the guests start to come through the line. And she loves it.

I had a chance to talk with Haley about her experience volunteering and why she keeps coming back to help.

How long have you been volunteering?

“I’ve been volunteering at the Blessing for a little over two years. Mainly it’s for school, but I first started because I love helping people,” she says with a smile. Her mom, Carol, and her stepdad Derrick, are also regular volunteers. Haley’s planning on using her volunteer hours for her senior project at SOTA.

What’s your main job or position when you help out on Saturdays?

“My primary job is helping people bag their groceries,” she says. Haley also helps prepare the food beforehand, making sure the produce is fresh and helping to bag the baked goods from Panera.

For the past couple of weeks, the Blessing has had a larger amount of food to give away because of food drives over the holidays. How do you think that will bless the families that come this week?

“It helps the families because we can double up the amount we can give them, and they can have more to last the holiday season. That way they can have as much food as they want on Christmas, and still have food leftover for the week.”

Do you think the food bank is making an impact in the community?

“Yeah, it is. We see a lot of new people come in every week. And then we have some that return.”

What’s the best part for you about volunteering?

“The best part is just the emotional reward that you receive. Just having the feeling that you helped somebody, and that you’re getting food to them.”

Helping out at the Blessing on Saturday mornings has become a regular activity for many of our volunteers including Haley, and we are grateful for their donation of time. Together, we are reaching many people in our community. If you are interested in volunteering, see our support page.

 

Stories of Hope: David

Here's David with his box of cereal.

Here’s David with his box of cereal.

Saturday mornings are always busy at the Blessing, but this last December weekend was especially full—a record of about 71 families were served.

In the midst of volunteers and guests bustling around preparing for opening, David, one of the Blessing’s regulars, sits patiently. He waits with his wife and cousin, and teases one of the volunteers as she walks past to fill the coffee machine. His cheerful smile is seen at the food bank each week, and his upbeat attitude hides the fact that he is struggling to make ends meet for his family of five.

He’s just happy to be here.

When Pastor Matt greets the overflowing room of guests, asking who would be willing to be featured on the Blessing blog, David is the first to raise his hand. He tells everyone who’ll listen how thankful he is for what he receives each week. I had a chance to talk with him about his experience coming to the Blessing and the reason for his contagiously positive attitude.

What are your impressions of the Blessing when you walk in the door each week?

“It’s very family-feeling. We can all talk to each other. This nice lady talks to me sometimes,” he laughs and gestures to Janet Wendland, one of the volunteers. “This lady gets me coffee sometimes. You know, we’re all nice to each other. It’s very kind here.”

What’s the best item you’ve received?

“Cereal!”
“Well, everything’s a blessing,” David’s wife butts in, giving him a teasing look.
“Well yeah!” he continues, “but cereal, cereal’s expensive…and I didn’t have cereal for years.”

How have you personally been blessed by coming each week?

“I’m able to feed my family, that’s one thing,” he says, “and I get prayer every week, and it seems to get me through the week, especially for my health concerns…everybody that works here and volunteers is very helpful and kind, and kindness is sometimes very important to some people. When people are kind to me, I feel warm.”

Would you recommend the Blessing to a friend in need?

“I already have!” he says. He recommended the food bank to both his sister and his cousin, who was also there.

Guests like David have been blessed by all our volunteers and community partners. He is just one of the many faces with a story that come through the doors each week looking for hope. If you are interested in volunteering or supporting the Blessing, check out our support page for opportunities.

Stadium High School Raises Support

Students at Stadium High School helped us this holiday season for the third time in two years with a school-wide food drive. The annual tradition began in memory of Stadium volunteer football manager and volunteer at The Blessing, Paul Snyder.

Alan Mandigo, the ROTC teacher, and several of the ROTC students helped us load two SUVs full of food and other goods to give away at The Blessing. In total, we received 15 boxes packed full of cans and boxes of food, 12 boxes of hygiene products, and 2 bags of Christmas wreaths.

Thank you, Stadium!

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New Cooler and Outside Area Updated

We have exciting news about the recent updates made to The Blessing. Thanks to some generous donations, we were able to purchase a second new cooler to replace the older refrigerators and freezers that weren’t working as well. This new cooler will give us a lot of room to keep all our cooled foods fresh.

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We’ve also redone the perishable food area outside. We constructed slanted shelving to make it look more like a farmer’s market. This will allow our guests feel more like they are having a genuine shopping experience.

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Partnership with Emergency Food Network

Following our one year anniversary as a functional food bank, we have been enabled to establish a relationship with the Emergency Food Network. The EFN is Pierce County’s distributer for food banks and homeless shelters. They provide 15 million pounds of food each year to over 60 food banks and shelters for low-income families and individuals. They often receive cast-away or leftover goods from large corporations, like Fred Meyer or Safeway, that they can then re-distribute. ENF requires a food bank to be at least one year in operation, so we now fit the bill.

We now go every Friday to collect these banana boxes, which are filled with various non-perishable goods. We also receive perishable foods as well. This past week, we were able to take away 50-lb boxes of potatoes and onions to give away at The Blessing on Saturday.

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Here is Kat, our contact with the ENF. She oversees the warehouse operations and volunteers, and she helped us work through the process of becoming partners with their organization. Doug also graciously lets us use the “farm truck” for delivery to TAC.

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Here is Dan, another worker at ENF, who helps us pack the boxes of goods and load them into the truck.

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We are excited to see how this new partnership will help us grow in the coming year!

 

 

The Big 10,000

The Blessing celebrated our 10,000th guest coming to the food bank this Saturday. Jay had no idea his visit would cause such a commotion! To celebrate, we read Psalm 150:6, which says,

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Jay got to go first in line, we gave his family a frozen turkey, and we took his picture:

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The Blessing Hosts a Car Show

A big thank you goes out to all who contributed to our most recent event! We hosted a car show, sponsored by Dr. Doug’s House of Hot Rods. Contestants were awarded prizes, and we provided the food and a free concert. We asked for food donations in exchange for a place in the car show, and are thankful to the many volunteers who gave their time and efforts to make the event a success.

We hoped to raise $2000 from the show to purchase a used cooler, which would allow us to keep donated perishables fresh and tasty for our food bank guests. Amazingly, we ended up raising over $2500.

We purchased a new 2-door cooler and had it delivered to the food bank. The very same day, we received a phone call from Cheney Stadium. They had a surplus of perishable food and needed a place to give it away, and we were happy to help them out!

We are ecstatic that God not only provided the funds to purchase a new cooler, but also immediately filled it with food for our guests.

We advertised the show in the neighborhood to invite people to show off their cars:

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Here is Dr. Doug at his House of Hot Rods, who sponsored the show:
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This snazzy ride was the People’s Choice winner:
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Here is the lineup of the other award-winning cars:
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We are grateful to all who brought donations for the food bank!
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Here is our new cooler, purchased with the funds donated at the car show.
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God provided enough food to fill it right away!
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Happy Birthday

The Blessing has now been in operation for one year!

We can’t believe how God has used us to help the people in our neighborhood and in Tacoma. He has not only allowed us to affect lives by prayer and food donations, but he has changed us in the process. We are excited to see how he will continue to grow us as we follow him in the coming year.

We had a celebration to commemorate how far we’ve come over the past 12 months of operation. Here are some of our volunteers who have contributed their time to help us stay open. We are so thankful for them!

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We also have a brochure to provide information about our service over the past year:

Blessing One Year Update

Featured Volunteer: Judy Stickney

imageJudy Stickney has been volunteering at The Blessing since May. She is grateful to be a part of serving the guests that come on Saturdays. Judy routinely acts as a personal shopper, helping guests select items according to the size of their family. At first, she was hesitant to be a personal shopper and volunteered to greet those who came to the door. After being asked to fill the position that was empty, Judy agreed to try it and now does it each time she serves.

“I really enjoy it,” she said.

Judy, like many of the volunteers, is not looking for any thanks. She likes to be part of serving those in need.

“There are a few [guests] who aren’t real sure of it,” she said. “But most of the time they’re real appreciative.”

Judy recalled how being served at The Blessing has allowed each guest to be prayed for.

“There’s some that pray for jobs,” she said. She mentioned one woman who came “asking for prayer so she can bring her mom here from Russia.”

Judy has also recognized how serving has changed her own perspective about those in need, especially people who ask for charity on the street.

“[Those on the street] may show up here,” she said.

Judy is glad to be able to help them if they do.

We are thankful for Judy and all of our volunteers at The Blessing. As Judy has learned, serving will not only benefit those who come to receive food, but also those who take the time to give. Learn more about volunteering on our Support page.