Fern Blaylock for volunteer of the year
Letters to the Editor
We are nominating Fern Blaylock as a belated acknowledgement of the countless hours she serves our communities with her support of the local food bank, the needy, and the students in our schools. Fern is the inveterate volunteer, helping people of all ages in our area.
Fern has managed the Grand Coulee Dam Area Food Bank for the past 12 years. During that time she has overseen a large growth in families served each week. When she started, the Food Bank served about 10 families with a few items, and now serves up to 160 with several bags. That means she has had to supervise the corresponding increase in volume of donations, commodities, storage, and equipment. She also supervises the volunteers from the community and the Coulee Dam Area Ministerial Association, who pick up, stock, bag, distribute, and deliver from the various sources to the recipients, throughout the year. In order to do this, Fern has to coordinate with various food programs and participate in regional food bank associations. That means keeping up with ever changing government rules and regulations. Her former business and government work experience is an asset for dealing with the various agencies. Locals requiring community service time can count on Fern to provide them work and supervision. Although Fern sometimes receives a pittance for her job at the food bank, she works countless hours over and above what is required, despite physical limitations and pain.
Through the Grand Coulee Dam Area Charities (a community of churches), Fern manages a funding and referral process to help the needy in our communities with such things as: food, clothing, utility bills, housing deposits, gas, or even a hot meal or warm place to spend the night.
Fern has volunteered for the children of the Grand Coulee Dam School District for more than a decade. She has worked with all grade levels from kindergarten to seniors in high school. She has tutored students in reading, math, and writing. She has supported and volunteered in the PTA, Americorp, and SHARP Kids programs and most recently the Colville Tribal Foster Grandparent Program. As a school mentor, she helps struggling students and those needing to fulfill their community service requirements. She has even ridden the morning and afternoon buses to help supervise and reinforce safety and student compliance to the bus rules.
As a Foster Grandparent volunteer, Fern has spent the last six years working with the kindergarten class in the morning and the first-grade class in the afternoon. She tutors and helps students complete their work, and individually tests them in order to help teachers monitor progress. Fern is known by all the kids in the school and many call her “Grandma Fern.”
The Tribal Foster Grandparent Program nominated Fern for a Washington State Volunteer Service Award. On April 25, in recognition of the 2013 Volunteer Appreciation Week, Governor Jay Inslee presented her with one of 44 awards during the Ninth Annual Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards at the governor’s mansion in Olympia.
Fern is truly a treasure who does all she does because she loves people and children and wants them to have the best in life. For many area students and teachers, Fern is their “Volunteer of the Year” every day, and they love her.
Thank you, Fern, for all the people you help!
Kevin Lind, Jan Erickson, Mary Jane Bailey