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Dont blame 'bad press' for hard times at WCS

At a Feb. 25 Wilsonville Community Sharing board meeting, members of the audience and the board made repeated accusations that “bad press” was the result of a tumultuous year and the loss of $25,000 in donations.

We at the Spokesman would beg to differ. With the board falling apart last year and only two members clinging on, rumors running rampant across the city and questions arising, we contend the problems were there long before we printed the story “Is the food bank crumbling?” on Aug. 14. The story looked into the nonprofit, how it was run and the selection process for identifying a larger dedicated space for the food pantry.

Since that story ran, we have seen changes at the food bank and support services provider — most for the better. The board now has seven members and there is an emphasis being put on collaboration and transparency. We applaud that.

Board minutes are now being posted on the WCS website and members of the public are no longer being turned away at the door of board meetings.

The city council and city hall (the city contributes nearly $30,000 a year to WCS) also appear to be sitting up and taking notice. In October, council shortened its contract with WCS, requesting some changes before committing to another full year of contributions.

However, there is still plenty of room for improvement. The board voted Feb. 25 to continue Rich Truitt as president for the next year even though new member and former city councilor Michelle Labrie-Ripple offered to serve in the position.

It is unfortunate Labrie-Ripple was not afforded the opportunity to control the helm. As a new member with vast experience serving the public sector, she would have brought a breath of fresh air to the board.

However, we at the Spokesman hope the new and old board members will work together to achieve the mission of Wilsonville Community Sharing — to help those in need in the community.

The board is now considering two very different options for expansion. The first is constructing a new facility on Frog Pond Church property, where the food pantry is currently located. The second, and most recent option, is to partner with Grace Chapel and use the facility on Boberg Road that the church will be vacating in May.

The first option comes in at a cost of $800,000 and requires WCS to raise $500,000 by May. So far WCS has a meager $51,000 raised.

The second option is much, much cheaper: just a lease comparable to what WCS pays now and a few fix-it projects. Also, Grace Chapel has stated its vision for that space is to become a larger community resource center with expanded services beyond what WCS currently provides. This option is also most centrally located and next to SMART transit.

To us, the Grace Chapel site is the optimal choice — for location and cost.

We would encourage the WCS board to consider all the options available to them and think not only of the tangibles like a building, but the services it provides and how best to provide them.

It is time to stop pointing fingers and blaming “bad press.” It is time to listen to the public and keep making changes. The community of Wilsonville is counting on you.




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