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Donating blood, offering monetary donations, organizing food drives and coordinating behind the scenes – these are just a few of the ways Yuba Water Agency employees have given back to their communities during the coronavirus crisis.
Over the last few months, the coronavirus has disrupted daily lives and turned normal routines upside down. With schools and businesses shuttered, food insecurity among Yuba-Sutter residents quickly emerged as a critical need to address. Recognizing this, Yuba Water’s Community Impact Specialist Jackie Sillman connected with the Yuba-Sutter Food Bank to see how she could help.
“Jackie has just been awesome,” said Michelle Downing, Interim Chief Executive Officer at the Food Bank. “She’s gone out and developed relationships with people to raise awareness around the food bank and the resource it provides in the community.”
A longtime resident and recognized community leader, Sillman joined Yuba Water last May after more than two decades with regional waste management company Recology. For Sillman, the recent weeks have been an opportunity to link people and resources to the immediate needs of the food bank, local pantries, blood banks and other nonprofits. Sillman characterizes many of these encounters as “full circle career moments.”
“The outpouring of local support and donations has been absolutely heartwarming,” Sillman said. “I am so grateful to be able to do what I do with Yuba Water and my community.”
Administrative Assistant Vangie Flores and Administrative Services Officer Lisa Cunningham have also recently volunteered their time and services, both in public and behind the scenes. Flores picked-up her first volunteer shift sorting through donations and filling bags at the food bank in April and has returned every week since, even on her birthday. She’s one of many who are helping with a need that goes far beyond the current pandemic.
In addition to processing donations at emergency food drives, Cunningham has also used her position as a Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce leadership program member to support Yuba-Sutter’s special COVID-19 Relief Task Force, a multi-organizational effort between the two counties. Cunningham says she primarily helped behind the scenes, working with others to create structure and documents needed for financial transaction processing.
Despite the unprecedented challenges brought by the coronavirus and related shelter-in-place measures, Cunningham says she’s deeply heartened by the collaboration across the two counties. She’s also thankful for her fellow leadership program members and their shared commitment to community service.
“I cannot stress enough how amazingly compassionate this community is,” Cunningham said. “When there is a need – it doesn’t matter what it is – once it’s expressed, we come together to provide and meet that need. I’ve witnessed that multiple times in the last year, not just during the pandemic."
Even as Yuba, Sutter and other neighboring counties begin to reopen, the need for donations will continue for months to come. If you are looking for a way to volunteer or donate, visit the Yuba-Sutter COVID-10 Relief Task Force’s website for resources and information or www.feedingys.org.