By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The conventional way to accept an award is to offer gracious words of gratitude.
The honorees at this year’s West Seattle Food Bank “Instruments of Change” gala turned the tables – accepting their award by presenting one to the WSFB itself, even creating a trophy for the occasion.
The gala was a hybrid event Saturday night, both online and in person at the Seattle Design Center in SODO. The online components were more than just a livestream; auctioneer Ian Lindsay did his work virtually, and even those attending in-person placed live-auction bids via their phones. Before the auction has ended, bidding had helped push the night’s proceeds past the $125,000 goal set to support the WSFB’s work fighting food and housing insecurity.
The Instruments of Change Award honorees were North Delridge residents Jillian Moore and Jeremy Vrablik, spouses who own Cascadia Produce. We introduced you to them back in February, reporting on the emergency food boxes they prepared for distribution each week, and a plan to support local Girl Scout troops by buying hundreds of boxes of cookies to add to what they were supplying. That was something extra for emergency-food recipients – and last night’s turnabout award was something extra for the food bank.
The presentation started conventionally enough. WSFB executive director Fran Yeatts hailed Moore and Vrablik as “superheroes” for helping the food bank meet community needs. They accepted their award exuberantly and then: “You’re the superhero,” countered the recipients-turned-presenters. “Here’s YOUR award” – and they gave Yeatts this trophy:
It was a room full of heroes, in person and online. WSFB board president David Weld reminded attendees that needing help “is not a choice” – instead, “the choice lies with society as to whether to help these people.” He noted that the largest source of funding for WSFB is “individual cash donations.” Needs rose dramatically during the pandemic, and “we choose … to address those needs.” Beyond the basic food and financial support provided by WSFB, it also administers companion programs including the Clothesline clothing bank and the Backpack Program that sends food home with kids so they don’t go hungry on non-school days – almost 17,000 bags of food a year.
Weld also presented a tribute to “one of the greatest supporters of the West Seattle Food Bank,” the late Rev. Ron Marshall, the First Lutheran Church of West Seattle pastor who died last November at 73. Weld recalled Rev. Marshall’s pride in helping shepherd the WSFB merger with the West Seattle Helpline, completed right before the pandemic.
The night’s theme, repeated throughout the program, was “Neighbors Helping Neighbors,” and that was embodied not only by the attendees and bidders, but by the many local businesses who donated auction items and/or otherwise sponsored the event. (WSB was media sponsor.) As Yeatts reminded them all, contributions not only feed the hungry but also “keep the heat on .. keep the water running … keep clothes on (clients’) backs.” You can support this work throughout the year by donating food and/or money.