MARYSVILLE — Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring recently honored JoAnn Sewell as the city of Marysville's Volunteer of the Month for October for her leadership within the Marysville Community Food Bank.
"It's people like JoAnn who make Marysville what it is," Nehring said. "She has an enduring dedication to serving the less fortunate in our community, and she is using the hours of her life in a meaningful way."
Sewell joined the Food Bank family about five years ago, a fact that Nehring shared at a recognition ceremony during at the Nov. 26 Marysville City Council meeting, which was attended by Sewell's family and fellow Food Bank volunteers. Her husband had passed away at the time, and with seven children grown and out of the house, she needed a new passion, and quickly found her second home volunteering at the Food Bank.
Sewell's dedication to serving the less fortunate and welcoming other volunteers got her hired part-time as the Food Bank's Volunteer Coordinator, a 5-hour-a-week job. Sewell helps draft Food Bank policy and guidelines, interviews potential volunteers, guides volunteers where their talents are best suited, and at times coaches them in appropriate customer service.
Sewell donates about 30 hours each week beyond her Volunteer Coordinator work. According to Nehring, the list of her gifts of time and labor to the Food Bank is long, and includes supervising the sorting of hundreds of pounds of produce that come into the Food Bank, and setting out the food and quantities to be distributed to the long lines of Food Bank clients.
Sewell also sets up displays of produce, pastries and bread, in addition to picking up bargain-priced food at local stores, growing her own fresh produce in six garden plots which yielded 450 pounds in 2012, and encouraging other gardeners to grow a total of 18,000 pounds for the Food Bank in 2012. She even makes pots of soup for volunteers and hot chocolate for clients, attends monthly Food Bank Board meetings, fills in for the Food Bank Director when he is away or at meetings, and sings Christmas songs to Food Bank clients during the holidays.
JoAnn Sewell made her involvement in the Food Bank a family affair when she encouraged her daughter, Amy Howell, to volunteer as well. Howell has brought her customer service and record-keeping talents to the table for the Food Bank, and added grant writing to her skills with the "Food for Thought" program in 2012, which supplies backpacks filled with weekend food for students at Marysville elementary schools that have been identified as at risk of hunger. One of the grants came through the city's Community Development Block Grant Program.
In his nomination, Food Bank Director Dell Deierling said, "JoAnn is an amazing person. We have the utmost respect for her, as well as the deepest appreciation for her service to this community."