Take the Next Step honors community supporters


It was a night to honor accomplishments, celebrate community and recognize those who have devoted their time to help Monroe nonprofit Take the Next Step achieve its goal of offering friendship, help and hope to community members in need.

The 2016 TTNS Volunteer Appreciation barbecue took place Wednesday, Aug. 17 at TTNS in Monroe. The festivities included a free barbecue, with hamburgers, hotdogs, side dishes and root beer floats, along with prizes and an awards ceremony.

Volunteers were recognized for their impacts on various TTNS programs and offerings, including the drop-in center, community dinners, sack lunches, Monroe's Cold Weather Shelter, the Growing Together program for young moms and Kidz Club.

The awards presentation was officiated by TTNS Community Outreach Coordinators Sarah Lunstrum and Kara Dineen.

Volunteers Bill Long and Ron "HossGÇ¥ Tehan were honored for their volunteer efforts at the TTNS drop-in center, which is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The drop-in center is available to anyone who needs it, and offers coffee, sack lunches and a computer center with internet access. TTNS staff can help clients prepare resumes and search for jobs online, while also addressing immediate needs like blankets and food.

Morning Star Lutheran Church was recognized for its help with the TTNS community dinners and New Hope Fellowship for helping to provide sack lunches.

Lunstrum invited former Cold Weather Shelter director Amber Mehta and TTNS staffer Michael Lorio to honor shelter volunteers, providing guests with a bit of information about the winter program.-á -á


"It starts in November and it ends in March and will be open any night that it's below freezing,GÇ¥ Lunstrum said. "A lot of our homeless clients tell us that the only way that they can stay warm when it's freezing is to walk all night, so the Cold Weather Shelter is really important for us to have in our community.GÇ¥-á

Mehta recognized Brad Feilberg for his efforts in providing notification any time the shelter was scheduled to be open, and for being a constant resource that she could always rely on. She also honored her husband, Vijay, for his efforts in keeping the cold weather shelter running smoothly. Vijay often worked behind the scenes, she said, but his help was invaluable.

"He's one of those people that you don't see volunteering but they are, so I really wanted to honor him tonight,GÇ¥ Mehta said.

Lorio honored volunteer Kathleen Sallee, who always went the extra mile, he said.


"She was one of those people who was always willing to take the 12 to 4 shift, which is everybody's least favorite,GÇ¥ Lorio said. "She was always there for the Cold Weather Shelter.GÇ¥

Next, Growing Together volunteer Shaina Englund was recognized by program facilitator Debbie Taylor, who founded the group six years ago. Currently, the Growing Together program supports more than 60 young moms, who attend informational monthly dinner meetings at Cascade Church in Monroe. Englund was honored for her extensive work providing childcare.

TTNS board member Laron Olson presented Pastor Michael Hanford with the TTNS Community Impact Award. Pastor Hanford is the police and fire chaplain and the lead organizer for Monroe's annual Police and Fire Appreciation Week. He is involved with the Monroe Community Coalition, and heads up the coalition's Community Relations subcommittee. Each year he helps coordinate a National Day of Prayer event in Monroe, inviting community members to come together and pray for leaders, community, families and the nation.

He recently spearheaded a grassroots effort to address Monroe's homeless problem, Olson said. Once a month, representatives from the Monroe Police Department, the Monroe Fire Department, the Monroe Library, EvergreenHealth Monroe, the Monroe School District and Snohomish County come together to strategize solutions.-á

"We're doing some really good and really important work,GÇ¥ Olson said.

Hanford is well known for his kind and gentle demeanor and his great capacity for service. His son, Kevin Hanford, has followed in his footsteps, serving the community in many ways, including on the Monroe City Council.

Kidz Club is a collaborative program coordinated by TTNS and Seattle Youth for Christ. The program is led by Raylin Lucey, who recognized Kidz Club volunteers Karen Reidel and Maribel Ibarra Rodriguez for their help with the youth-oriented after-school program. Rodriguez is a recent high school graduate, and one of 12 teens recognized earlier in the summer for volunteerism in support of Kidz Club.

Once all the awards were presented, guests were given the opportunity to support TTNS, which dedicates 93 percent of all donations to local programs. For more information on Take the Next Step, visit www.ttns.org.-á

Photo by Chris Hendrickson Take the Next Step board member Laron Olson presented Pastor Michael Hanford with the Community Impact Award, for his community advocacy.


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