For Mountlake Terrace resident Sarah Clark Hunt, assisting at the Concern for Neighbors Food Bank isn’t just an occasional diversion from her busy life.
“I figure this is my work,” she stated proudly.
Hunt, a wife and mother of three, began volunteering at the Mountlake Terrace food bank in 2007.
“I saw a need for assistance, so I asked people if I could help,” she said. Since then, Hunt has worked in many aspects of the charity’s operation and now helps primarily with guiding food bank clients through the numerous assistance organizations available in the area.
“I’m here to help and be the best resource that I can be to assist with other people,” Hunt explained. “I feel that, from the standpoint of being at that point of where I was not making ends meet, that I’m able to be more empathetic to the situation.”
Hunt often explains to first-time food bank visitors her own personal experiences.
“I’ve been there, I know what you’re going through; let me see what I can do to help you,” she said.
Hunt’s devotion to the Concern for Neighbors Food Bank and its work stems from her first introduction to the charity more than nine years ago when, as a single mother of two – one of them just an infant – she needed assistance herself.
“I had an under-a-year-old baby, I had left my job because I just didn’t have day care to care for the child, so we needed something to help fill in those gaps.” she said.
Hunt noticed a neighbor in her apartment complex coming home with food and other necessities and asked if the items were from a local food bank. The neighbor answered yes and directed Hunt to the Mountlake Terrace charity.
Even though Hunt was familiar with food banks, she remembers how her first impressions with Concern for Neighbors stood out.
“There were positive volunteers to greet me with smiles and assist me through the process even thought, sometimes as a client you feel pretty embarrassed that you have to come and ask for help in the first place,” Hunt recalled.
“The first time it was a little nerve wracking,” she added.
Hunt found not only friendly, helpful volunteers at the operation, but over time was given some basic food supplies, assistance with meeting some utility bills, and directions to other support groups in the area, contributions that made a real difference in her life.
“The food bank has helped me with making ends meet, the fact that they can help with utilities, that they have this amazing list of resources that they can help point other people to. I have found friends. I met my husband here,” Hunt said.
Hunt met the man who would become her husband four years ago while she was volunteering at the food bank.
“His mom came to me one day and said, ‘hey, my son is back in the area; could you help him,’” Hunt said. After directing him through the various Concern for Neighbors resources, the two talked, became friends and eventually wed, she said. He now works full-time in the area and the two have added to their growing family with a child of their own who turned two years old this month.
While her family is her greatest joy, Hunt also delights in her work at the food bank, especially seeing those seeking help be lifted up out of difficult circumstances. She even hears directly from some clients that she has assisted in the past.
“I’ve gotten Christmas cards from clients before and they’ll write me a little note saying ‘thank you for helping,’ or they’ll come up to me and say this is what I was able to do because of your assistance,” Hunt said.
The Concern for Neighbors Food Bank is located at 4700 228th St. S.W. in Mountlake Terrace. For more information about the charity, go to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pg/Concern-for-Neighbors-Food-Bank-108195645888965/about/?ref=page_internal.
–By Doug Petrowski