Rachel Chessie loads baby supplies onto a cart at the Sky Valley Food Bank on Friday, May 15, 2020 in Monroe, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Rachel Chessie loads baby supplies onto a cart at the Sky Valley Food Bank on Friday, May 15, 2020 in Monroe, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

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Boeing workers donate $170,000 to Snohomish County groups

The Boeing Employees Community Fund helps local nonprofits afford food, equipment and services.

EVERETT — Meals on Wheels in Snohomish County can now afford a new delivery van. The Sky Valley Food Bank in Monroe will add a new waiting room. The Safe Harbor Free clinic in Stanwood will be placing an order for new exam tables and more.

These gifts and more are made possible by the Boeing Employees Community Fund, a charitable pool that’s fully funded and managed by Boeing workers.

This spring the Puget Sound chapter awarded $1.6 million to 34 local nonprofits, including $170,000 to a half-dozen nonprofit groups that serve Snohomish County.

More than 11,000 Puget Sound area employees contribute to the fund through a voluntary payroll deduction. Boeing pays the program’s administration costs and an eight-member panel recommends how to divvy it up.

John Fueger, a Boeing employee for 32 years, is the local chapter’s new treasurer. The panel received 62 grant requests last year and was able to fund about half, said Fueger, a corporate auditor for the company. “We typically fund health and human services organizations,” Fueger said. “That’s where our fund donors want their money to go.”

This year, the panel wanted to do more, he said.

“With the magnitude of COVID-19 we wanted to do something special to help,” Feuger said. That something ended up being $375,000 grants each to Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline, which serve Puget Sound food banks. The Puget Sound chapter is now accepting applications for the next funding round.

Bob Blanchard, left, and Ron Petrick sort through meat donations at the Sky Valley Food Bank on Friday, May 15, 2020 in Monroe, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Bob Blanchard, left, and Ron Petrick sort through meat donations at the Sky Valley Food Bank on Friday, May 15, 2020 in Monroe, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“We’re putting that money to work right now,” said Mark Coleman, senior spokesman for Food Lifeline. The group supplies food banks across the region.

Donated food, Coleman said, has slowed to a trickle because grocery stores have empty shelves. “We are buying shelf-stable food — peanut butter, canned goods — and creating emergency boxes of about 20 pounds,” he said. The group has distributed the emergency boxes at two Seattle locations and is searching for a Snohomish County distribution site. “We can put those boxes out and do no-touch distributions,” Coleman said.

Safe Harbor Free Clinic received a $40,000 grant that will enable it to purchase five new examination tables, waiting room chairs and new office chairs to replace the “old squeaky ones,” said Sandy Solis, the clinic’s executive director. “It was a beautiful surprise,” she said of the Boeing grant.

Sky Valley Food Bank received $25,000. The money will help finance a new wing that will give the Monroe food bank more room to spread out, executive director Cindy Chessie said.

“You should have heard us — we were all cheering when we heard we received a Boeing grant,” Chessie said.

“This is so important during the (COVID-19) pandemic. There’s so many people out of work. We can help a lot of new folks,” Chessie said.

A volunteer helps more move pallets outside of the Sky Valley Food Bank on Friday, May 15, 2020 in Monroe, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A volunteer helps more move pallets outside of the Sky Valley Food Bank on Friday, May 15, 2020 in Monroe, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

It may not be a new vehicle that Homage Senior Services purchases for its Meals on Wheels program — Homage received a $40,000 grant — but whatever it is, “we’re very grateful,” said Stephanie Vonnahme, the group’s grant manager.

“Our vehicles get a lot of wear and tear. Even if it’s not brand new, it’s new to us,” Vonnahme said. “This comes at a great time as we’re seeing an increase in our home delivery meals. Many of our clients are sheltering at home and are scared to leave home.”

Other area grants include $27,000 to the Stanwood Community and Senior Center for renovations. Camp Korey in Mount Vernon received $40,000 for a new heating and cooling system for its cabins. The retreat serves children with severe medical conditions.

There are 20 employee community fund chapters throughout Boeing. The Puget Sound chapter — the largest — launched in 1951. Since then, it’s donated more than $630 million to groups in Washington.

In 2018, the Puget Sound chapter donated $6 million to organizations around the state, including $500,000 to help fund a portion of the new YMCA of Snohomish County at 4730 Colby Ave. in Everett.

Almost half of Boeing’s global workforce is located in Washington. In January, the company reported that it employed 71,829 employees in Washington. It employs 161,133 people across the United States and more than 60 countries.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

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