LOCAL HEROES: Board members are unsung part of Eatonville Family Agency

If you are a resident in the Eatonville region, you know most of the people on the Eatonville Family Agency Board, for they live in your neighborhoods and are involved in your churches, businesses, schools, and social organizations.
However, you may not be aware of all the things each one contributes to the agency (EFA).
Board members are Dr. Ellizabeth Neuhalfen, Dr. Peter Karlin, Bill Fitzer, Nancy Ellis, Ruth Ferris, Emmy Lay, Jessica Moore, Bob Akervick, Margaret Barnett, Tom Smallwood, Ruth Ferris, Anisa Parks, Rosemarie Van Cleve, Denny Hightower, Sylvia Korte, and Geneal Palmer. New members are Sarah Cole and Anne Malver. Donna La Porte is an advisor to the board.
Two changes in the Eatponville Family Agency Board were the inspiration for an article about the board and what, in particular, the members do for the agency and the town of Eatonville.
The first change is that younger members are joining the board. A representative of that change is Anisa Parks. The board until recently has been mainly composed of those who are retired and who are aging, many in their seventh decade. This was positive in that it included mature members of the community who were devoted to serving its members who were on the economic margins. However, it lacked the energy and new ideas of younger members of the community.
Anisa is the face of the new board member, a young, well-educated professional who has experience in the challenges of raising a young family and the challenges of a career in today's world.  
She is the school social worker at Eatonville Middle School. Because she saw the direct impact on students of programs like the EFA backpack program, she was inspired to join the board.
The second change is a new board president, Jessica Moore. The torch has passed from former board president Nancy Ellis, a devoted board member for many years. It was she who recruited Jessica, whom she saw as a dynamic and compassionate young woman who accomplished impressive things for Northwest Trek, the organization headed by Nancy's late husband, David Ellis.
One of the first things that Jessica did in her new role as president was to ask all board members to contribute financially to the board. This request respected the financial diversity of members but emphasized the importance of everyone giving something.
This request was precipitated by a new attitude about grants at the agency. Our director, Alana Smith, has been aggressive in applying for grants, and Jessica, who has a job that involves applying for grants, knows the kind of scrutiny agencies applying for grants receive from the grantors. Both know that one of the things organizations giving grants look for is the degree of financial involvement of board members, as expressed by their commitment to support their institution financially. Because of that reality, EFA board members were asked for a financial commitment, adding a new level of what is expected of board members.
The EFA board doesn't have members with deep pockets. However, the members have deep hearts. Besides money, they contribute some amazing things. The community, even other board members, would be surprised by the many professional and personal gifts generously given.
Many in the Eatonville community see the EFA giving food baskets, clothing, and food-filled backpacks to students at risk of hunger. What many don't see are the people behind the scenes who do the unsung roles that keep the agency functioning well.
Board members are among the unsung but vital parts of the agency. All give up one evening a month to attend meetings where they review the budget, hear what is happening at the agency, and report what work they have done for the agency. Several also attend a finance meeting to work on the details of the budget.
Apart from those essential elements of board work, all give important non-monetary contributions. One member contributed hours of accounting and budgeting skills, making sure that our new director was off to a good start with a thorough understanding of the agency budget. One member writes thank-you letters to donors of money and goods. Another contributes her skill with Spanish when a translator is needed, and another washes the agency van. Two with experience in business have helped write the employee handbook. One member attended a class on protections non-profits need to have in place to prevent law suits. Another provided financial expertise and collected the money from the “Round Up” containers in local businesses.
Others serve at senior events, collecting money and welcoming those who attend. Several members have participated in fund-raising, contributing organizing skills, volunteering for duty at events such as May Day and the fun run, making raffle baskets, creating presentations for churches and local organizations, giving musical events and parties. One has worked with the director to raise the level of nutrition of the food in the kids' backpacks. Many have attended the Community Development Block Grant meetings in Tacoma to support the EFA's requests.
That doesn't cover everything, but it does illustrate the commitment and devotion of board members to keeping the EFA a vital community agency. Community members and friends can confidently support the EFA, knowing it is in good hands.


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