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See us at the Fair!

Good Cheer Food Bank & Thrift Stores

Meet our Garden Leadership Apprentices Got underwear? Good Cheer does!

Food Bank & Thrift Stores Summer 2012 Vol. 9, No. 2

Ed Hume to share gardening advice at Harvest Party Time to celebrate all that has been good for 50 years! Good Cheer’s 4th annual Harvest Party & Music Fest is September 8 from 2 to 6 p.m. in the Good Cheer Garden in Bayview. As ever, this popular community event will be full of delicious food, great music, tours, games for children, a greenhouse raffle, and many informative gardening workshops.

There is also an auction featuring fabulous items and artwork with proceeds supporting Good Cheer. Northwest gardening expert Ed Hume will be part of a panel discussion answering gardening questions and will also be available to autograph his books. The Ed Hume Seed Company has been a strong supporter of Good Cheer’s garden

over the years. This year’s Music Fest features a great lineup of local musicians with special guests Janie & Joe finishing out the day with a long set to listen or get up & dance! The Harvest Party & Music Fest will begin later this year than in the past--from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. to encourage people to go to the dedication of the Admiralty Lighthouse at Fort Casey which runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then come on down to Good Cheer for entertainment, garden tours and workshops, and fresh food. (See the back page for more information.)

Looking back, moving forward This December it will have been half a century since a small group of friends primarily from the St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church came up with the simple idea of wanting to spread some holiday “good cheer” to their less fortunate neighbors on South Whidbey. A pair of socks and a toy for the kids plus a few food items for their families was what this group had to share during the holiday season of 1962. Fifty years later this simple act of kindness has morphed into a self-sustaining model food bank that grows its own produce and provides food for an average of 864 families each month. This July alone, Good Cheer served an average of 60 families a day, and according to Executive Director Kathy McLaughlin McCabe, “We have had record days in the past, usually around the holidays, when we have served over 100 families in one day.”

Much has changed since the early days. The idea back then was simple: In 1962, a small group of friends approached the local welfare department for a list of families in need during the holidays. To their surprise they received 120 names of South Whidbey residents many of them children - who were struggling. A strike at Boeing had contributed to the tough times, but it was also a different Whidbey Island than we know today – even more rural, more secluded, rougher living. “People were helping each other back then,” recalled Richard Clyde, who spent most of his life in Langley and was a Good Cheer board member in 1989 through the 90s. “People helped each other because there wasn’t anybody else around.” Continued on page 2

▲Then and Now: Traci McClellan Cheever, holds a newspaper clipping showing her at age 5 as ‘the Good Cheer Girl of 1969’ for that year’s holiday fund drive. Today she owns A Special Touch Flowers and Gift Shop in Ken’s Korner in Clinton.


Good Cheer Food Bank & Thrift Stores

Looking back, continued from page 1 Recognizing the need in the community, the group formalized their efforts by forming the South Whidbey Good Cheer Inc. in 1963. The organization was led by three strong women, two of which continued their efforts for decades: President Marian Howe – who had a talent for starting charitable organizations; vice president Ida deArmand, unfortunately not much is known today about her; and of course, treasurer Hanna ‘Tommy’ Double, who ran the Langley thrift store for nearly 25 years and remained honorary board president for the remainder of her life. In 1964, the group held its first fund drive. They made a record-setting $61.60. The organizers were amazed by the generosity of the community, but they had offered prudent words in an article in the Whidbey Record after many families had sent in $5. “While we’re deeply grateful, we want to say such large amounts are not necessary…

►Then and Now: Bess Windecker (left) was an Honor Society member at SWHS in 1986 collecting food for Thanksgiving boxes for Good Cheer. Now: Dr. WindeckerNelson is a developmental psychologist with a private practice in Clinton and is involved with numerous organizations and events helping children and families.


“People were helping each other back then,” recalled long time Langley resident Richard Clyde.. “People helped each other because there wasn’t anybody else around.” a dollar donation buys two pairs of socks, and 50 cents buys a game,” they cautioned their donors. Today, $61.60 barely fills a gas tank or a grocery basket anymore. Still Good Cheer knows how to stretch a dollar and as a nonprofit organization today can turn a $61.60 into $554.40 worth of food. In 1965 the founding members submitted an application to become a non-profit 501 (c)3 nonprofit. At that point, the organization was funded mainly through proceeds from the thrift store, which opened in 1965 in the old Langley post-office which houses the Brackenwood Gallery today.

Tommy Double, a retired social worker from New York, ran the thrift store which also served as a help closet for families who had lost everything due to unemployment, or circumstances such as house fires or other tragedies. There wasn’t a food bank yet, but Double would hand out food vouchers, redeemable at the Star Store. Min Dexter, who became a volunteer at Good Cheer in 1978 after working for the Star Store most of her life, said that the crew at the Star Store sometimes reported back that the vouchers weren’t always used for nutritional food but were sometimes used for candy and soda pop. Double did not like to hear that, Dexter said, so she started accompanying some clients to the store. “You better believe, people started buying good food then,” Dexter said. Dexter reflected on how much Double would have loved the offerings for clients today at Good Cheer. “She would have loved the garden; the fresh vegetables,” Dexter said about the garden project that was started in 2009 and provides Food Bank clients with seasonal fresh produce.

“She (Tommy Double) would have loved the garden; the fresh vegetables,” Dexter said about the garden project that was started in 2009 and provides Food Bank clients with seasonal fresh produce. Good Cheer Thrift Store moved into its current location on Anthes Street in 1967 and purchased the store from Al and Mildred Anderson in 1969. With the move to a larger location, an in-house food pantry was established to handle the increased need and slowly, throughout the 1970’s, Good Cheer expanded its focus to include feeding people in need. Howe and Double led Good Cheer for many years. Double was the face of the Langley Thrift store until nearly 1980, when she reluctantly retired. Former board president, the late Robert Porter, had the unfortunate task to tell her it was time to step back as Double started having health issues. “Her health began to fail and she started to have fainting spells. It broke my heart to insist that she retire. I came up with the idea

Good Cheer Food Bank & Thrift Stores of naming her Good Cheer Board President Emeritus, though, and made sure that someone would pick her up for monthly board meetings. She was treated like a Super Queen Bee and loved it,” he recalled in a 2007 interview. Leona Potvin, Betty Davenny and Jean Porter took over until yet another strong woman took the lead. Joy McClellan was the executive director of Good Cheer from 1981-1996. When she started out, the thrift store made $50 a day on a good day, donations came in slow, yet the need was great, she said. She put her head together with those of other long-time helpers and started to convince the board of directors to expand. “First I was the only paid employee. Then I finally got an assistant. Then we talked our board into not renting out the space that Porter Insurance had held and expanded instead,” she said. “Next, we talked them into building a walk-in freezer. It just kept growing so fast. The upstairs was added in 1992,” McClellan said. They needed to grow in the 1980s, she said. Continuing Boeing lay-offs and strikes affected the community, the population was growing and the nation was, on the heels of the 1979 energy crisis, recovering from one of the worst economic times

▲From 1962 to 2004, Good Cheer staff and volunteers provided hundreds of toys each year to local children from low-income families who had signed up to receive the gifts. Holiday House now fills that role, while Good Cheer hosts the “Child’s Chance to Give” event every December. since the Great Depression. She said the Food Bank wasn’t by any standard what it is today, but it filled a need. “There were certain things you couldn’t get. We didn’t always have everything. We traded with stores when we needed fresh milk or when somebody had a baby and we needed baby food. Then we’d call around

at the stores,” McClellan said. Her efforts were paid forward. It still warms her heart that there were so many people helped by Good Cheer during her tenure who gave back to the charity once things had improved for them. “There were many people who, when Continued on page 6

See us at the Whidbey Island Fair; Cheer us at the Parade! Good Cheer will be at the Whidbey Island Fair this year celebrating our 50th Anniversary year. Find us in the Commercial Building. We will have some freebies and anniversary memorabilia to purchase. We would also like to hear your stories of how Good Cheer has affected your life. Thursday is half-price admission from 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. if you bring at least two non-perishable items for each person that wants a half-price ticket. Good Cheer volunteers will be outside the gates to accept your donations. If you have purchased a wristband for day rides you have choices for how to switch out the day band for the evening rides band some involving food donations. Riders who want up to 10 hours twirling, swirling and

revolving upside down have four choices for the 5 p.m. second session: pay $10 for the evening wristband; turn in the unused game tokens and get a wristband for $5; play the games, donate 5 cans of food and get a wristband for $5; skip the games, turn in the unused tokens, donate 5 cans of food and get the wristband at no cost. Food donations will be accepted at the ticket redemption office early so fairgoers don’t need to haul food donations around. Look for Good Cheer’s Hats Off to South Whidbey in the Fair parade and cheer really loud for us so we can win another ribbon! If you are interested in volunteering for manning the booth at the Fair, please contact Shawn Nowlin at 221-0130 or e-mail

▲High school intern Shaylee Crawford and Good Cheer staffer RJ Barker display the banner that will be carried in this year’s Fair Parade starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 18 in Langley.


Good Cheer Food Bank & Thrift Stores

Garden apprentice program seeks to grow the next generation of community garden leaders Good Cheer’s Community Garden Leadership Apprentice program combines handson, practical growing skills in small-scale food production with the leadership skills needed to initiate and manage community gardening projects, to coordinate volunteers, and to implement education and outreach programs. Apprentice Bobby Cressman loves food... especially fresh, local, sustainable gardengrown food. “Simply put, my life revolves around food…in just about all facets. I have been a cook since I was young and have worked in food service since I was a teen. Cooking and eating food is an integral part of my life,” he wrote on Good Cheer garden’s blog. A recent graduate of Portland State University with a Master’s degree in science teaching, he has worked at two organic farms as well as several in Europe. He wants to help younger generations understand where their food comes from and

sees sustainable gardening as practiced at Good Cheer as a way to encourage them to give back to their community. As the Fresh Food on the Table liaison, he manages the daily harvests, ensuring that the Food Bank is well stocked with fresh garden produce. He also manages the garden at the Bayview School, where he worked with students, and looks forward to helping them start a garden at their new location at the former Elementary School. Along with the other apprentices, he helps manage the Wednesday work parties at the Food Bank garden, and has recently begun a series of cooking classes based upon a survey of clients he conducted when he first arrived in April. He is always looking for ways to encourage more clients to become involved in the garden believing in a full-circle concept of giving and receiving. One of the projects he hopes to accomplish before his apprenticeship ends in late

October is to package Good Cheer’s overall model of operation into a replicable plan that other communities can implement. Apprentice Allie Urbanek is passionate about sustainable gardening. After earning a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, she worked in several community and school gardens, most recently in Fairbanks, AK. “Good Cheer definitely has some of the better techniques of community gardening that I’ve seen, primarily due to (Garden Coordinator) Cary Peterson. Everything she does is of real high quality -- it’s a standard we all strive to achieve. “One of the things I’ve learned from Cary is that it’s not enough to show volunteers how to do something, you have to be willing to work beside them throughout the whole experience,” she said. In addition to helping manage volunteers work parties at Good Cheer’s garden, Allie manages the Langley Middle School garden where she conducts classes, develops garden

▲Apprentice Bobby Cressman teaches and works alongside volunteers in two gardens, ensures that a continuous supply of fresh produce is in the Food Bank, and conducts cooking classes when he is not involved with a myriad of other apprenticeship duties.


Good Cheer Food Bank & Thrift Stores Mechelle (who prefers to go by ‘Meesh’) Kneidinger believes deeply that fresh, nutritious food should be available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay for it. Her B.A. degree in Environmental Sociology from the University of Tennessee provides a strong foundation for her interests in sustainable agriculture and social justice. “ES is a branch of sociology about environmental ▲Apprentice Allie Urbanek shown working with 6th grade science issues and how social isstudents at the Langley Middle School garden greenhouse. sues emerge around them. In this apprenticeship program I constantly curriculum, and coordinates with teachers draw upon my background in sociology and there. community and how they relate to food. On Thursdays she assists co-apprentice “I have never seen such a full-circle proMechelle Kneidinger with the Westgarden gram as Good Cheer. It is very unique, at the Whidbey Institute where several loencouraging, and inspirational. It not only cal families with young children regularly feeds people; it feeds a sense of community. volunteer. People in the Food Bank and people driving “Getting closer to our food creates such a by can see where the food is growing – it’s a shift in how we eat. That’s one of the purvery interwoven concept,” she said. poses of the school garden. It’s not necesAll the apprentices have a garden they sarily about making everyone a farmer. It’s manage. Kneidinger lives at the Whidbey about helping students experience fresh Institute and manages its Westgarden, a food in a way which can really open their large, lovely garden which supplies the Ineyes,” she said. stitute with fresh produce and Good Cheer’s “When you realize where your food comes Food Bank as well. from, it makes you eat more intentionally. The Westgarden is a slower growing garSo many kids today think that food just den because it doesn’t get as much sunlight comes from grocery stores. They don’t due to the surrounding tall forest trees. It is make the connection to how food is grown. a little larger than the Bayview garden and “This is so important in our country where in addition to vegetables has many flowers. obesity is epidemic, and where there is such “It’s a haven where people can come to a huge waste stream (estimated at $100 bilrelax and admire nature,” she said... and of lion worth a year) where half our food goes course volunteer on Thursdays alongside to waste. the garden leadership apprentices. “I really appreciate Good Cheer’s efforts at reducing food waste by gleaning and working with island grocers, picking up leftover produce. “At the Food Bank, whatever food isn’t put on the shelves goes into the soup pot, a food bin for local livestock, or to our worm composting bins In effect, Good Cheer produces ZERO food waste.” she said. Urbanek also mentors Teen Garden Apprentice Dominique Emerson in partnership with the South Whidbey Commons. (An article about the teen apprentice program will be in the Fall Good Cheer Newsletter.)

▲Apprentice ‘Meesh’ Kneidinger manages the Whidbey Institute’s large Westgarden. “Thanks to the enthusiastic community support that made the apprenticeship program possible, we are providing fresh food to the Food Bank, year round,” said Cary Peterson, Good Cheer’s garden coordinator and founder of the apprentice programs. “It has had such an impact that other communities are now coming to study what we are doing; how we are cultivating community. “Without this community’s generous support, it wouldn’t be possible to do what we are doing,” she said. Executive Director Kathy McLaughlin McCabe agrees, adding, “I have to laugh when I hear people saying the youth of today just don’t get it…. Allie, Meesh, and Bobby are perfect examples of just how absurd that comment is, -- as they invest their lives in local agriculture. “Watching them work with children and adults – teaching, educating and mentoring – I’m inspired and thankful they choose Good Cheer on their path through life,” she said.

Can you help bridge the gap? 864 families a month rely upon our Food Bank. That’s 43 more families over this same time last year. As a result, our food costs are up at a time when donations are traditionally slow. So far this year we have spent $102,818 on food and have received $71,968 in donations to purchase food. Can you help with a summertime donation to bridge the gap? Thank you!


Good Cheer Food Bank & Thrift Stores JaNoah Spratt’s e-book is now available on Amazon

Volunteering from home

Eleven-year-old Good Cheer ambassador JaNoah Spratt’s e-book ‘How I Helped My Community And You Can Too!’ is receiving rave reviews. The $2.99 e-book can be read on a Kindle or computer. JaNoah’s efforts on behalf of Good Cheer Food Bank are recounted throughout the book, which also contains a foreward by board member Kay Stanley. It’s an especially good book for young readers to spark their own community volunteer efforts.

Special thanks to Pat Hoelting, 91, who until recently due to eyesight problems, had been Good Cheer’s fine linens ‘go-to’ volunteer. She cleaned and pressed vintage linens, first at the Bayview site, then later at home. She responded to a call for help in a 2008 newsletter featuring Gail Lesichid, Good Cheer’s ‘Linen Lady.’ “I always felt like I was the lucky one volunteering and believe I got a lot more out of it than what I put into it,” said Hoelting, adding that she and fellow volunteers at Bayview would sometimes muse about the history of certain particularly fine pieces and the women who made them. “I also liked the challenge of rescuing fine linens to help support Good Cheer. “I once got a large stain out of a wedding dress that later sold for $75 in the Thrift

Looking back, continued from page 3 they got back to work, all came back and donated,” she said. “That’s what made us so strong. This is what makes Good Cheer such a good place.” Today’s Executive Director agrees. “We have many clients that are also volunteers. One that is the most memorable to me is a child who left a note on my desk that read ‘Thank you for being heer [sic] for us. We would be very very down in money with out you. So we want to HELP you and we will work in the garden !THANKS!’ “Another was during the last Nichols Boatbuilders layoff when an employee’s family used the food bank. As soon as Nichols called the employee back to work they turned into consistent monetary donors and the wife became one of our leading volunteers by pricing, cleaning and merchandising items for our thrift stores,” she added. McClellan said in addition to thousands of memories of helping people, she most cherishes the “family feeling” that was resident at Good Cheer – then and now. “One of my favorite things was that we served lunch to all our volunteers every day. The volunteers took turns to bring in lunches. My husband would bring in a whole turkey


Store,” she said. “I guess I’m proof that one is never too old to volunteer,” she said.

“Our community is so blessed that 50 years ago the founders of this hometown charity named it “Good Cheer,’” McLaughlin McCabe said. “The name implies optimism, hopefulness, and joyfulness. With the same spirit in which Good Cheer was first created that same spirit continues to thrive and has led us to where we are today.” dinner on Thanksgiving or come in to make soup,” she said. “It was a special group.” That spirit was also what drew in Marilyn Thomas who began coming in about once a week at first but she said it was so much fun volunteering that she ended up being there almost daily after a few years. “We never made any more than $20 a day (in the early days). If we did it felt like we did something big,” she said. Her friend Min Dexter agreed. “Boy, if we had a $100 then we had really done something. And if somebody came in with a big donation of items, all the volunteers would hurry to be first in line to sort. “We were a long way from the piles that you find at the place (distribution center) in Bayview,” she said referring to the distribution and sorting center at the Bayview site that keeps scores of volunteers busy today, “Our community is so blessed that 50 years

ago the founders of this hometown charity named it “Good Cheer,’” McLaughlin McCabe said. “The name implies optimism, hopefulness, and joyfulness. With the same spirit in which Good Cheer was first created that same spirit continues to thrive and has led us to where we are today. Good Cheer was then and is now about a caring community, dedicated volunteers, a committed board of directors and a faithful staff.” For many of those who have been part of Good Cheer history, it is simply rewarding to see how much Good Cheer has grown. “It is wonderful that there are so many people supporting this,” Thomas said. Dexter added, “It makes me feel good to see how it has built up. It feels good to know how many have been helped. It feels good to have been part of this.”

Good Cheer Food Bank & Thrift Stores

Got Underwear? We do! Pink ones, blue ones, striped and polka dotted ones, too! Large ones and little ones... extra small to 4X. Hipsters, bikinis, briefs, boxers and hi-cuts. Good Cheer’s Rack clothing boutique in Clinton has popular Hanes brand underwear for the whole family and so will Langley’s store starting in August.. “Sales are awesome,” said Rack sales associate Julie Smith. “People really like being able to buy underwear locally.” Kathy McLaughlin McCabe had a hunch they would. “We are always looking for ways to increase revenues in our Thrift Stores. A comment I often heard was ‘I get everything I wear in Thrift Stores except (pause) my underwear. Another common request

was for AFFORDABLE underwear, so I thought, “Why not stock new brand-name underwear and provide our customers with CHOICE and CONVENIENCE. “I shared the idea with our management team and it was a resonating ‘YES let’s do it!’ We tested it in “The Rack” and the response has been great. In August we plan to have our Langley Thrift new underwear section set up hoping the results will show the same rate of ▲ Sales associate Julie Smith holds some of the dozens success,” she added.

of types of underwear now available at Good Cheer.

Mac McCloskey

Creativity = Donations at The Paint Escape Paint Escape owners Tina Beard (above left) and Susan Barrat (above right) are once again donating $5 to the Food Bank for every penny bank purchased and painted in their Freeland shop. The banks include several types of animals in addition to traditional ‘piggy’ banks. Over the past 5 years more than $3,874 has

been donated to the Food Bank through this effort. Good Cheer is also seeking donations of original glass, ceramic and pottery pieces for the Harvest Party’s auction. Contact Shawn Nowlin at community@goodcheer. org for more information.

A very good friend of Good Cheer, Leland “Mac” McCloskey, passed away this July. Mac served on the Good Cheer Board for 23 years and led Good Cheer through the first remodel of the Langley Thrift Store in 1980, the requisition and building of the Bayview property which is now the home to the Food Bank and distribution center, and the 2011 remodel of the Langley Thrift Store. Mac always had a sparkle in his eye and grin on his face. He did many wonderful things for Good Cheer; he was known as our potato and onion man for the holiday meals, our number one raffle ticket seller, our bumper sticker idea man, and our strongest community advocate. It wasn’t uncommon seeing him pushing a broom at cleanup parties during construction projects. Mac leaves behind warm memories and a world that he made better.


Good Cheer Food Bank & Thrift Stores Good Cheer Board of D irectors Jay Ryan, President Louise Prewitt, Vice President Robin Hertlein, Treasurer Ann Gallagher, Secretary

Good Cheer Food Bank & Thrift Stores PO Box 144 Langley, WA 98260


Pam Bickel Jim Hartley Maury Hood Tom Nack Bob Olson Janet Ploof Marilee Seligson Kay Stanley Bill Watts Gene White John Worthington Executive Director Kathleen McLaughlin McCabe

Swing by Good Cheer’s Harvest Party & Music Fest on Sept. 8 Good Cheer Bayview Campus

Saturday, September 8 • from 2 to 6 p.m. • Free Admission

Link to our Facebook QR code

Nonprofit Cook Off • Kid’s Activities • Children’s Story Library Booth • Taco Bar & Floats • Food Bank Tours • Auction • Jim Freeman emceeing • Golden Anniversary Memorabilia • Janie & Joe headlining the Music • Garden Workshops • Panel Discussion with Ed Hume


Win this amazing greenhouse! Raffle tickets for this beautifully designed greenhouse, (donated by Bugabay and valued at more than $3,700), are $5 apiece and for sale at all Good Cheer loca-

tions. The drawing will be held at the Harvest Party September 8. Need not be present to win. Installation is included on South Whidbey.

Sumer 2012 Good Cheer Newsletter  

Summer issue of Good Cheer Newsletter

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