Fish Food Bank Approaching Fundraising Goal For New Building
Ron and Jan Coen have a lot of history in the Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH Food Bank building.
Both are longtime volunteers and board members who have been involved with FISH since it opened in 1976. FISH has been located at its current location, next to the Eagles Club Building on Burnham Drive, since 2000.
But the Coens association with the building itself goes back even further.
The building used to be a movie theater.
When we were going together, thats where we used to go see movies. This is where we decided to get married, Jan Coen said.
New Building To Open Opportunities At Fish Food Bank
More than 200 volunteers are busy, month in and month out, picking up food donations, filling clients wish lists, delivering food and helping in many other ways at the FISH food bank.
FISH board president Ron Coen gets an update on construction of the new FISH facility. Photo courtesy of Cathy Cummings
One of those volunteers, a college student named Gianini Watts, is the son of a man whos well known to Seattle Seahawks fans. Wallace Watts alter ego is Captain Seahawk, a colorfully dressed fellow whos at every Hawks game wearing a Seahawks headdress and a Seahawks-themed outfit usually in a front-row seat in the end zone, next to Kamhawk, also appropriately attired. Captain Seahawk recently visited FISH to help unload donated groceries and announce that he plans to give a donation to the food bank. A video that was shot during his visit will be aired during the pregame show Thursday when the Hawks play the Los Angeles Rams on national television.
Capt. Seahawks donation is typical of the kind of support that has kept FISH going for 45 years and has helped to raise $5.8 million for the new 11,600-square-foot building thats under construction just 376 feet from the current location at 4425 Burnham Drive. That facility will help FISH meet the communitys needs for many years to come, said board president Ron Coen.
Captain Seahawk wheels in a cartload of food donated to FISH. Charlee Glock-Jackson / Gig Harbor Now
The Gig Harbor Peninsula Fish Food Bank & Community Services Center Will Have Its Own Home In Fall 2022
After decades of cramming food and clothing into rented spaces splitting at the seams, Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH broke ground on its own new facility at a private ceremony July 13.
FISH is “an independent, autonomous, unaffiliated 501 nonprofit organization inspired by the biblical FISH international movement and principles of neighbors helping neighbors,” according to its website.
The 11,595 square foot building will be located at 4304 Burnham Drive, 100 yards from the current rented facility at the Eagles Club in Gig Harbor.
The new building will house extensive warehouse spaces for both food and nonfood items, and will include walk-in coolers and freezers, much larger display and distribution areas, and dedicated office space for interviewing clients.
FISH assisted 4,210 families last year, including 1,501 on the Key Peninsula, with household items and clothing and over 210,000 meals. FISH also gave away $300,000 in rent and utility assistance and another $8,000 in student aid.
The idea for our own building started in 2014 when we expanded into another large room at the Eagles and even that was taxing for us trying to manage all the donations, said Jan Coen, the Gig Harbor FISH founder and food bank coordinator. We started looking for places all over to buy, but it was too expensive or unavailable.
We look to the needs of the community and do what we can, said FISH spokesperson Lynne Demichele.
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Volunteers Make It Happen
Except for one part-time employee operations coordinator Bill Mumford FISH is run entirely by volunteers, Jan Coen said. Mumfords job is to coordinate all the volunteers and help everyone get familiar with our new building and get back to in-person shopping.
Over the years those volunteers have done more than just help collect donations, stock shelves and fill shopping bags. Coen recalled an instance, years ago, when an expectant mom was confined to bed rest.
Our volunteers took turns going to her home and helping her. Its always been neighbor helping neighbor, she said.
Volunteer Kathy Cummings noted that the need for the services FISH provides is higher than many people may think.
And we know that more than 60 percent of our clients are seniors living on fixed or limited incomes and in need of food and other services, she said. And there isnt another social services agency in the city that can help with all those needs.
The new food bank is located at 4303 Burnham Drive, near Puerta Vallarta restaurant.
Full shelves and wide aisles inside Gig Harbor Peninsula FISHs new food bank building. Charlee Glock-Jackson
Gig Harbor Swim Raises $25000 For Local Food Bank
Gig Harbor tradition helps food bank What started as an idea born around a fire pit years ago has turned into a major fundraiser for the Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH Food Bank.
Neighbors along Point Richmond Beach in Gig Harbor started an annual swim 12 years ago. Participants swim one mile from Vashon Island back to Point Richmond.
Every year, the event gets bigger. So far, $100,000 have been raised for FISH. This year alone, $25,000 was raised in donations.
“One of my goals is to help my friends and their friends help the community in which they live and this allows people to see what you can do with just a simple effort,” said Peter Bortel, one of the brains who hatched the idea in 2002.
Ron Cohen with FISH says the fundraiser helps them fund programs that provide food, services, even tuition for school and summer camps to adults and children in need.
Cohen said that the Gig Harbor community is a special one because they take care of one another and the swim is just one example of that.
“You can see a whole neighborhood coming out and that’s what it’s all about,” he said, “Neighbor helping neighbor.”
Ten local businesses like Heritage Distilling and Phase 2 Wealth Management donated money and services as well.
In total, the event raised $25,473 for GHP FISH this year.
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Fish Food Bank In Gig Harbor Wa
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Clients Can Come Inside Again
The new building allows clients to do their own shopping again. COVID restrictions and the cramped former space made it necessary for clients to give their wish lists to FISH volunteers. The volunteers filled grocery bags with whatever was available, FISH founder Jan Coen said.
Now theres no more standing in line or waiting outside in the rain while a volunteer does your shopping for you. You can do it yourself. We know that thats a really important thing for our clients.
The clothing area has also returned. Shelves full of linens, toys, books and small kitchen appliances are ready to go home with whoever needs them.
We take just about any kind of gently used or new clothing, volunteer clothing coordinator Dawn Wagner said. We dont clean or wash things, so they have to be in good shape and ready to wear. Our suggestion is always, Would you give it to your next door neighbor or best friend?
The childrens play area at the Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH Food Bank. Charlee Glock-Jackson
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Construction Is Underway On The Ghp Fish Food Bank
WA Patriot has begun construction on a new 10,000 sf facility for the Gig Harbor Peninsula Fish Food Bank. The new, larger home will help GHP FISH serve clients, volunteers and the community well into the future and allow more efficient processing and storage of donated food and other items. It offers expanded shopping areas and has room for an expanded clothing and household goods area, a conference room for groups, and private offices to provide a place for confidential client meetings. WA Patriots Mac Stanton, Zerah Florance, Alex Powell, Rory Godinez and Phil Kvamme have worked together with the design team, Ratcliffe Gagliano Architects and Owners Representative Wade Perrow to get this project off to a great start. We look forward to a successful finish in spring/early summer of 2022.
Click here to watch a video of the first foundation pour, marking an exciting milestone for the project!
New Building Taking Shape
The structure now under construction near the old will fix all that.
In the new building, it will be just like theyre going to Safeway or any other grocery, Ron Coen said.
The largest portion of the building will be devoted to storage and warehouse space. Plans also call for ample display and distribution space for food and non-food items space for kids to play while parents shop a modern walk-in cooler and freezer and sufficient office space for volunteers.
Plans show the layout of the new Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH Food Bank building, with ample space for storing and displaying goods. Vince Dice
Ron Coen noted that operating costs for the new building will not be significantly higher than the old, despite being nearly three times larger. This is due to design efficiencies and incorporation of modern technology.
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Fish Food Bank Celebrates Opening Of New Building
When Jan Coen and a small group of friends got together in 1976 to brainstorm ways to help their less-fortunate neighbors, they couldnt have imagined their efforts would lead to a spacious, inviting, 11,500-square-foot building stocked with food, clothing, small appliances and other items for people in need.
On July 12, the ribbon was cut at that new building, the new home of Gig Harbors FISH Food Bank and Community Services Center. Coen and her group of friends founded FISH following that mid-70s brainstorming session.
The new food bank is just a few hundred feet from the old location. But the buildings are worlds apart in terms of space, accessibility, inventory and client privacy.
Clients shop in Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH food banks new building. Charlee Glock-Jackson
Efficiencies Improvements In Fishs New Building
The facility has a LEED Silver designation. The acronym stands for Leadership in Energy and Design, a program to encourage environmentally friendly construction.
Its so energy-efficient that will actually decrease our annual operating expenses, said board president Ron Coen, Jans husband.
The facility allowed FISH to consolidate four separate storage spaces into a single location. We wasted a lot of time and gas driving to all those different external storage places, Coen said.
There are also offices, private rooms where clients can learn about services or apply for financial assistance. A covered loading dock allows several trucks to make deliveries at the same time. Theres even a little play space for kids.
The main shopping area has racks filled with packaged and canned foods. Refrigerators and freezers store fresh produce and other perishable items.
GIg Harbor Peninsula FISH Food Bank founder Jan Coen, center in blue shirt, visits with volunteers last week. Charlee Glock-Jackson
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New Building Coming Soon
Yet they will be more than happy to leave the building behind.
FISH is building a new, nearly 11,000-square-foot structure across a parking lot from its current location. The building is expected to be ready for occupancy in June.
Community members can get their first look at it during a at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 2.
Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH board chairman Ron Coen discusses the cramped existing building recently. A new facility for the food bank is under construction and expected to open in June. Vince Dice
Saturdays event is the kickoff for the community fundraising phase of the campaign for the new building. FISH Food Bank has already raised $7.7 million toward its $8 million goal.
The $7.7 million already raised came from government grants, large donors, in-kind donations and other sources. Now its time for the general public to kick in.
Hitting that $8 million goal would leave Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH with a paid-for building sitting on land on which it obtained a 99-year, $1 annual lease.
Our hope is to be able to move into that new building entirely debt-free, said Ron Coen, chairman of the FISH board. I think thats going to happen.
Fish Toy Drive Distribution Begins For Record Number Of Kids
A generous rush of last-minute donations put Gig Harbor-Peninsula FISH Food Banks 2022 toy drive over the top, despite requests for gifts for a record number of kids.
Shoppers browse items at Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH Food Banks annual toy drive on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. Kathy Cummings/FISH Food Bank
Despite reporting a slow pace of donations in the final days of the drive, FISH ended up with plenty of gifts for the 777 children from who registered to receive them.
That number 777 kids from 291 families is the most FISH has served in its more than 20 years doing the toy drive.
The communitys generosity has been outstanding, FISH volunteer Kathy Cummings said. We were able to put together full bags of toys for every child.
Gifts donated to Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH Food Banks toy drive await distribution on Thursday, Dec. 15.
Distribution of the toys started Thursday, Dec. 15. It continues from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday for those families who have registered to receive gifts.
Registered families were given a time and day to come pick up their gifts. Anyone who missed their appointment should email .
Even as distribution for this years drive goes on, FISH volunteers are already looking ahead to 2023. Gifts donated at Sundays Lighted Car Parade, for instance, will be distributed next year.
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Spirit Of Serving: Harborstone Credit Union Highlights The Gig Harbor Peninsula Fish Food Bank
This month, Harborstone Credit Union wants to shine a light on the work at Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH Food Bank. They have been serving the community since 1976. Everyone in the greater Gig Harbor/Key Peninsula area belongs to GHP FISH by nature of contributing food, money, clothing or housewares by volunteering in some aspect of its operation, or by receiving services.
Listen to this incredible story about the impact they are making in the community!
Harborstone Credit Union believes that as a credit union, we can positively impact the communities in which we serve. As a not-for-profit cooperative, the money we earn is returned back to our members in the form of great rates and low fees, while a banks profits are generated for the interests of its shareholders. We offer the same access to smart technology, products, and services that other financial institutions do, with one major difference: We do so with our members best interests in mind. Give us a call at 253-584-2260 or submit your questions to us online!