The Lakewood Hunger Task Force serving Springbrook has been “Caught in the Act — of Keeping Lakewood’s Promise for April.
What is it on a Monday morning that catch teachers and principal’s attention? Kids coming to school hungry & not because they didn’t have breakfast that morning, but because there was no food in the house over the weekend. Hunger is not new, but in Lakewood there is a growing attitude & if something needs fixing, there are ways to solve it.
In early 2006 a task force formed to address a significant crisis in the Springbrook neighborhood. A group of Lakewood volunteers linked with Food Connection, a food bank at St. Leo’s Church in Tacoma. Each Saturday morning & rain or shine & these volunteers set up an awning, open the back end of a truck and pass out canned goods, breads and needed staples from this mobile food bank. Records indicate that 946 families in Springbrook have received food at one time or another. Between 125 to 150 families each week stand in line.
As the first anniversary of the Springbrook Mobile Food bank approaches, Pat Hilterbrandt, volunteer for the task force shares this special story. “It is not unusual for children (some very young) to stand in line for their family. Mom is home with other younger children — the weather is just too cold and wet for all to come. The volunteers, realizing the box of food was too big for a child to carry, started bringing a little red wagon for families to haul their food home with. That red wagon always found its way back to the mobile food bank except for one week. Everyone & both volunteers and Springbrook families & were so upset. The families went looking for the missing wagon. The following week as the truck pulled in, there was the wagon & a real symbol of pulling its weight for families.”
But food isn’t the only thing being dispensed. It is the attitude that if you feed a hungry child you feed the desire to learn, and students will do better in school. According to Bruce Walton, Principal at Tyee Park, “The compassion of the Lakewood Hunger Task Force helps reduce the very real fear that many Tyee Park students face that they aren’t assured when their next meal will be. Students who are supported by the efforts of the Lakewood Hunger Task Force come to school better able to learn because their focus can be on school rather than mainly survival.”
The Lakewood Hunger Task Force (whose members are Dawn Whitman, Renee Reid, Angelina Delgado, Lester Sparks, Adam Flores, Kim and Stephanie Smith, Stephanie Shook, Suzanne Tate, Donna and Roger Melby, Margaret and Jeff Kraft, Johnny McGriggs, Pat Hilterbrandt and Kevin Glackin-Coley) are examples of Caring Adults providing a Healthy Start to the Springbrook neighborhood and receives the traveling Red Wagon, a symbol of Lakewood’s Promise of people pulling their weight to help the youth in Lakewood. Lakewood’s Promise mission is to mobilize people from every sector of life in Lakewood to build the character and competence of our youth by fulfilling these Five Promises:
– Caring Adults & Provide ongoing relationships with caring adults – parents, mentors, tutors and coaches
– Safe Places & Provide safe places with structured activities during non-school hours
– Healthy Start & Provide all the elements leading to good physical/mental health for a healthy future
– Marketable Skills & Provide marketable skills through effective education
– Opportunities to Serve & Provide youth with opportunities to serve in their community
Lakewood’s Community Collaboration, made up of over 100 human service organizations, service clubs, businesses, individuals and public entities presents each month a “Caught In The Act & of Keeping Lakewood’s Promise” Award to an individual or organization that has quietly performed an outstanding deed for a family/child in the City of Lakewood.