Feb. 25, 2010
By Tim Simard
The Williston Community Food Shelf has a new president.
Observer photo by Tim Simard
Cathy Michaels, the new president of the Williston Community Food Shelf, organizes food on Tuesday evening.
Williston resident Cathy Michaels accepted the leadership role after former President Deb Beckett stepped down this month. The Food Shelf’s board of directors elected Michaels at a meeting last week.
Since the early stages of the Food Shelf, Michaels volunteered in a number of capacities, including directing operations and scheduling volunteers. As president, Michaels said she wants to ensure that the Food Shelf remains an integral part of Williston.
“There is a definitely a need in this community for the Food Shelf,” Michaels said.
The Williston Community Food Shelf opened in November 2008 in Maple Tree Place. After more than a year at the shopping center, the Food Shelf moved to the Taft Farm Village Center on Cornerstone Drive, in the same building as Artists’ Mediums and Oasis Day Spa.
The Food Shelf provides monthly assistance to economically disadvantaged families in Williston, Essex and St. George. People from outside those communities can receive a pre-packaged bag of goods, but cannot shop for items.
Beckett said Michaels has been a key volunteer with the Food Shelf.
“She works tirelessly and brings a lot of organizational experience to the president position,” Beckett said.
Due to an upcoming National Guard deployment to Iraq, Beckett, a guard member, stepped down from her role. She is also the Williston town clerk.
Michaels will be the third Food Shelf president; founder Jill Lang ended her tenure as president in 2009.
Michaels said her biggest challenge as president will be handling the influx of families needing assistance as the economy continues to struggle. From October through December 2009, the Food Shelf aided 160 families per month in need of food — it’s largest number to date.
At its new location on Cornerstone Drive, the Food Shelf has seen fewer families, but Michaels doesn’t expect that to last.
“I think some people are having trouble finding us, but through word-of-mouth, that’s slowly climbing up,” she said.
In an effort to improve the new location’s visibility, Michaels said the Food Shelf’s Web site, www.willistonfoodshelf.com, will be updated with information and pictures. Ben Viau, a Champlain College student, is donating his time to rework the site, she said.
The Food Shelf may change its Tuesday operating hours, as well. Currently, the Food Shelf remains open from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. Most people arrive earlier in the evening, so new hours could change to 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
Along with Tuesday evenings, the Food Shelf is open Thursdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Michaels said the organization always needs funds to continue operating and she plans to organize several fund-raising events throughout 2010.
One local business took up its own fundraising initiative this month. Schenck Chiropractic, located in the Taft Farm Village Center, held its customer appreciation day on Feb. 18. Dr. Bill Schenck offered his services for free during the day if patients donated money or food for the Food Shelf. The theme for the customer appreciation day was “superheroes and villains,” with the office staff dressing up in appropriate attire, according to practice manager Brad Krompf.
Krompf said the business raised $525 and “lots of food.” After making donations to the earthquake relief effort in Haiti, Krompf said the chiropractic practice decided to help a Williston charity.
“We wanted to bring our efforts back home and do something local,” he said.
For more information on donations, contact the Williston Community Food Shelf at 735-6303.