Anita and Jerry Rugh have worked at the Ocean Shores Food Bank since 2016, after relocating from the Seattle area. Both started off stocking shelves and were soon promoted to management positions, due to their intelligence, hard work, and striking personalities. This is their story, by Gary Josephson, Roving Reporter
Q: How did you meet?
Anita: Jerry lived in San Diego his whole life and I had moved there. We started going to his church.
Jerry: We disputed whether we met at a church potluck or at a Mothers’ Day event.
Anita: It was a potluck on Mothers’ Day!
Jerry: I saw her from across the room. She and her sister came over and sat down next to me.
Anita: He thought my sister was cute until he realized that she had a baby and was married. (Jerry starts chuckling.) Then he thought I was cute until he found out I had a baby too. (Both start laughing). I was divorced at the time.
Q: Once you got over the baby obstacles was there an instant spark?
Jerry: We went out the next day!
Anita: We went to a volleyball game together. We were married five and a half months after that.
Q: What brought you to Washington?
Jerry: We took a driving vacation and discovered the Pacific Northwest. We were coming back from Victoria, driving down 101 and Anita said, “Stop the car, take my suitcase out; this is where I want to live!” It took us 9 years to get here, but we made it.
Q: How did you hear about the Ocean Shores Food Bank and what were your first jobs as volunteers?
Anita: After the first of the year living in Ocean Shores (2015) I sent an email to their Website and within 15 minutes got a response, introducing us to the food bank. They did not need help with distribution, so we became worker bees at Tuesday work groups instead.
Jerry: We were stocking shelves. While helping another volunteer move cases of cereal, I fell and broke my elbow.
Anita: (laughing heartily) The second week there!
Jerry: I was basically just stocking shelves and getting ready for distribution. We did not even know what distribution was at that point. Mike Lull, our wonderful Operations Manager, was very patient with us and thought that maybe we could help him in other areas.
Anita: Mike taught me how to check the refrigerator and freezer temperatures every week. The very first thing I did was sort green bags from other bags that were donated. I flattened those green bags and put them in boxes! Eventually we moved into other areas of responsibility and continued sorting and boxing bags.
Q: That was a great segue into my next question. You both play major roles in the running of our food bank. Could you please describe your current duties?
Anita: I am the Volunteer Coordinator, which means I contact the potential volunteers, inviting them to a work group. If they cannot make the work group, I invite them to meet me at another time, so I can get to know them better. Once they have worked a few times, I give them a full food bank packet to complete. I keep all their paperwork and stay in touch. I make sure the job they are assigned is something they enjoy doing. (Our volunteers walk in and work; you do not have to babysit them!) I also help Sandy Harley (Executive Director), creating and printing documents. I oversee our database and do food bank reports. I really enjoy my duties.
Jerry: I am big on documentation. When I took on a management role, I took the task of writing an Operations Manual and going through every aspect of what we do. If we ever got hit by a bus, there is someone you could hand this to, and the food bank would continue to run. I am also chair of the Operations Management Group (OMG) and that put me on the Ocean Shores Food Bank Board. We were looking for a new location for the food bank. We started the process to buy property from Galilean Church but had to deal with wetland issues. (I proposed buying the other half of the property that did not have those problems.) I am now the Building Committee Chairman. This week I am sending out a request for architects, while the church is finishing up its subdivisions.
Q: What is your favorite food bank story?
Anita: During our second week at the food bank, a volunteer is telling Jerry not to go up on a step stool to pull down boxes. But no, “macho man” can do it. So, what does he do? He slips, falls, and fractures his elbow. Jerry thinks he can get Workman’s Comp for it and I say there is no way after only two weeks that we are filing for Workman’s Comp! So, for the next six weeks I worked while Jerry stayed home.
Jerry: I look forward to Don (a food bank client) coming through, because he never wants much and has the biggest smile on his face. He is always looking for hot dogs. If we ever have any hot dogs in the building, we save them up for Don!
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