Marysville names Volunteer of the Month

Rita Henry, left, is named the community’s Volunteer of the Month for January by Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring. - Courtesy Photo
Rita Henry, left, is named the community’s Volunteer of the Month for January by Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

MARYSVILLE — Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring named Rita Henry as the community’s Volunteer of the Month for January of this year, for managing the Marysville Community Food Bank Toy Store that put toys and gift cards in the hands of 1,100 underprivileged children this past holiday season.

Henry, a customer service supervisor at the Marysville branch of HomeStreet Bank, explained that she saw firsthand the difficulty that some community members have making ends meet when she began volunteering six years ago. She decided she wanted to make a difference, and the Toy Store fit because of the good it does for children and families.

Today, she chairs the ad hoc committee that works through all phases of the Toy Store, and also represents the committee at Food Bank board meetings.

“For your outstanding community service through the Food Bank and Toy Store during the holidays and throughout the year, it is indeed my honor to recognize you for your contributions,” Nehring said at the Feb. 13 City Council where Henry was honored. Family members, co-workers and Food Bank representatives attended.

Henry started with the Toy Store first as treasurer in 2006, then teamed up with a city police department employee, Patricia Duemmell, to co-chair the group for two years after the unexpected death in 2008 of Lillie Lein, another city employee who had overseen the Toy Store for several years.

When Henry took on the solo role of chair, she marketed and re-branded the ubiquitous red barrels that appear in stores and buildings around the holidays to make sure that community members knew they represent the Marysville Community Food Bank and Toy Store. In 2011, requests for barrels grew from 40 to 60.

Food Bank Director Dell Deierling raved about Henry’s leadership and passion for helping others, especially children.

“She brings financial and organizational savvy from her banking background to help guide the invaluable and successful community program that the Toy Store has become,” Deierling said.

In addition to the 1,100 donated toys, the community donated 86,000 pounds of food through general giving, the All-City Food and Toy Drive, and the Marysville Arts and Tech High School Food Drive. In all, 1,226 families received holiday food baskets for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Henry is a widow with three sons and a daughter, and she had many family members at the Feb. 13 City Council meeting. Her number one hobby is enjoying her six granddaughters, according to Nehring.

In addition to the Toy Store, Henry volunteers each April at the annual Shred-a-Thon and Clean Sweep event co-sponsored by the city, HomeStreet Bank, North County Outlook and Shred-It. The Shred-a-Thon event gives residents an opportunity to get rid of boxes of unneeded old documents that, if left around, can make them easier victims for identity thieves to prey on.

Last year, 535 vehicles went through the line to see their documents safely destroyed by Shred-It trucks.

The event is free, but Henry stocks red barrels at the event seeking donations for the Food Bank, to remind people that the need is there year-round.

Last year’s event raised $477 and 350 pounds of food in four hours.

“So even beyond the holidays, Rita continues to find ways to meet needs at the food bank,” Nehring said.

Henry was quick to share credit for the Toy Store’s success with a supportive and helpful team that included Sue Kendall, Bonnie Ramsey and a corps of dedicated Toy Store volunteers, as well as Deierling, Food Bank President Mike Mulligan, the Food Bank Board and its own volunteer staff.


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