Care Moses Lake honored

Apr. 22—OLYMPIA — Serve Washington has selected Care Moses Lake as the recipient of a 2024 Washington State Volunteer Service Award for the state's north central region, according to an announcement from Serve Washington.

The volunteer group award is given to groups of people who serve on a specific project or shared an ongoing volunteer commitment, according to the announcement.

A group of a dozen volunteers with Care Moses Lake, a Grant County-based non-profit, make and deliver 200 food sacks per week to people experiencing food insecurity and homelessness.

Care Moses Lake started in 2017 as an informal group of volunteers, according to the announcement. Another non-profit organization had requested for volunteers to make sack lunches twice a week for clients. Founder Michaelle Boetger recruited a few friends and family members to help. The pandemic of 2020 saw an increased need for food in the community, so Boetger and her Care Moses volunteers continued making the sandwiches, an endeavor they called "care sacks." They expanded their care sacks to include donations of hygiene products, sleeping bags, clothing and cold-weather items. As their need in the community grew, Boetger and the original group of volunteers recruited other friends, family and community groups to volunteer.

Besides distributing care sacks to people experiencing homelessness, they give the sacks to food pantries, youth service groups, organizations serving foster youth and others, the announcement said. They make and distribute soup weekly at the Open Doors Sleep Shelter. They collect monetary donations to buy supplies for other organizations. They purchase and donate protein shakes to cancer patients at the Columbia Basin Cancer Foundation every month. They've also helped provide food to the Boys and Girls Club to feed kids over spring break.

Their volunteer base has grown as well. Several local schools, youth sports teams and community members have volunteered to assemble and distribute the care sacks.

In 2023, 1,047 volunteers logged more than 544 hours of service with Care Moses Lake.

"Volunteers are what makes Care Moses Lake," the announcement quoted Boetger as saying. "We couldn't do what we do without them. Volunteering can be contagious, in a good way. People want to be part of a community and showing them the opportunities available and the positive impact on the community we live in is so important."

The north central region includes Okanogan, Chelan, Douglas and Grant counties, Serve Washington wrote in the announcement. The purpose of these awards is to honor the many acts of kindness that individuals, families, service groups and organizations perform in communities across the state of Washington. The awards recognized service performed during 2023.

"We believe volunteerism promotes bonds across various races, cultures, beliefs, backgrounds, and experiences," Trish Almond, interim executive director for Serve Washington, wrote in the announcement. "We also believe national service, volunteerism and civic engagement are key to achieving equity, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through these awards, we seek to recognize individuals and groups who reflect the diversity of our state for their contributions toward effectively addressing issues that face their communities."