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Wilsonville Community Sharing (WCS) and the food bank are alive and well.

During 2013, the food bank has provided food for an average of 350 individuals each month, many of them children. Our programs providing financial assistance with utilities and other expenses are helping an average of 60 families each month.

This vital assistance to residents of Wilsonville who have encountered difficult times is made possible through the generous work of a monthly average of 59 volunteers, the financial contributions of churches, businesses, individuals and the city of Wilsonville, and the direct work of two part-time staff and a volunteer board.

To address the growing need for services, WCS has plans to construct a new facility from which we hope to increase current services by at least 50 percent in the first two years and add other needed services. A community development block grant and WCS funds have already been committed to the project. We are excited that two prominent local business leaders have agreed to play major roles in our campaign to raise the additional funds needed for this initiative. We have also identified other key leaders who we anticipate will assist us.

Our board has recently added a new member, Wes Morris, who brings a fresh perspective, professional and practical skills and insights to the board. We are actively recruiting for at least two more members to join us on the board. In particular, we seek leaders with experience in finance, public relations and communications.

We believe that it is important for the community that provides such generous support to have confidence in WCS and in our search for a site for the new facility. In this spirit, we offer the following facts to help explain our process:

Objective, written criteria for the site comparison and selection were established in advance and applied consistently to the rating and ranking of sites.

Our architect/engineer firm visited all three sites to evaluate and determine site development costs.

Based on established criteria including site development cost, Valley Christian Church was ranked No. 1; Meridian United Church of Christ (Frog Pond Church) No. 2; and Wilsonville United Methodist Church No. 3.

The board decided to proceed to negotiate with the churches in ranked order.

Board members throughout the site selection process were Cheryl Kelly, Tammy Puppo and Rich Truitt.

Following careful deliberation, every major decision was reached unanimously among these board members and staff Lani Snyder and Leigh Crosby.

Before agreeing to consider hosting WCS, Valley Christian leadership was advised by the consultant that their site would justify rent far above the rate that WCS indicated it was able to pay. This greatly complicated and delayed negotiations.

Language for subleasing and other terms were provided by WCS’s attorney as standard for ground leases.

The first estimate for all project costs was provided by WCS’s architect/engineer firm in mid-July 2013.

All three churches graciously offered to host WCS at far below market rent.

There is no financial windfall for any party associated with this project, as the host church will have committed itself to providing land for WCS for up to 50 years at rent well below market rate.

In hindsight, we acknowledge that some things could have been done differently and perhaps better. However, WCS’s board is convinced that the site selection process was objective and fair and that there are no ethical issues to be addressed.

At this point, we intend to begin raising the funds needed to construct the new facility; then to initiate an application with the city for a conditional use permit. As soon as these phases have been accomplished, we will ask our architect/engineering firm to complete design and develop construction documents. Additional information about progress on the project will be available soon on the WCS website.

We are excited about early indications of support from the community for this wonderful new facility that will allow WCS to increase and expand services to those who need help. This facility will allow WCS to use a shopper’s model at the food bank with a larger dedicated space for food storage. The new facility also will offer privacy for clients, space for visiting service providers and training opportunities.

We hope that WCS can build upon the loyal support given over the years by many volunteers, churches, businesses, the city and individuals to construct this new facility to increase services to those in need.

Cheryl Kelly, Rich Truitt and Wes Morris are members of the Wilsonville Community Sharing board.

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