Thurston County Food Bank logo

FORKids Program Provides Meals for Children in Thurston County

In the summer of 2007, The Olympian ran an article which reported that (at that time) 671 children were homeless in Thurston County. Partly in response to that article, Robert Coit, the director of the Thurston County Food Bank, created a program called “FORKids”. Modeled after similar Backpack programs, volunteers assemble packets that include non perishable, single serving, easy to prepare food. FORKids tries to provide nutrition based meals for two days to cover each child’s weekend. Counselors at the participating schools contact the FORKids program with numbers for the week. The assembled supplies are put into plastic bags, stored at the Food Bank and delivered to the participating schools. The counselors then discretely put the food packets into the student’s backpack.

A pilot program was held, for the first year, with the North Thurston, Olympia and Tumwater school districts. The focus were preschool and elementary students up to 6th grade. The non-profit Homeless Backpacks, Inc. services middle and high schools.

After the first years’ pilot, our own Griffin School District was added, with Hawks Prairie Head Start, West Olympia Head Start, Marshall Middle School and Komachin Middle School.

As of this month (March 2013), ForKids is serving 1700 students a week in Thurston County. At the Griffin School, the program consistently serves around 37 students.

How can you support the FORKids program? There are a few ways. You can donate certain kinds of food which are nutritious and yet appealing for kids and which are easy for kids to open and prepare. Contributions of cash are always welcome. And you can volunteer to help assemble food packets.
Here’s a list of sought-after foods which need to be single serving and easy to open and prepare by little hands:

Oatmeal Packets
Cup of Soup
Fruit Cups
Small boxes-raisins, cranberries,
Dried fruit, real fruit leather
Beanies & Weenies
Jerky products
Pepperoni and Cheese Sticks
Pudding cups
Shelf Safe Milk
Cold Cereal boxes
Easy Mac packets
Tuna and Crackers
Cheese & crackers
Ravioli cups
Spaghetti Oh cups
Juice Boxes (real fruit)
Granola Bars (peanut free)
Granola Bars
Peanut Butter cups
Small packages of nuts

The Food Bank reports that, “We have an especially difficult time finding protein items since they tend to be the most costly.”

Food donations should be delivered to the Thurston County Food Bank (220 Thurston Ave. NE, Olympia), Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 3:30pm. You can tell them your donation is for the “FORKids program.”

Cash contributions can also be made directly to the Thurston County Food Bank, but marked “FORKids Program”. Checks or cash can be hand-delivered, and checks can be mailed directly to:

Thurston County Food Bank
220 Thurston Ave. NE
Olympia, WA 98501

If you would like to volunteer to help assemble food packages, contact Steamboat resident Cheryl Faulkenburg at

Want to learn more about the Thurston County Food Bank’s FORKids program? Click here for their web page, which includes an annual report.

Steamboat Neighborhood Stickers and Something Called “Social Capital”

Television, two-career families, suburban sprawl, generational changes in values–these and other changes in American society have meant that fewer and fewer of us find that the League of Women Voters, or the United Way, or the Shriners, or the monthly bridge club, or even a Sunday picnic with friends fits the way we have come to live. Our growing social-capital deficit threatens educational performance, safe neighborhoods, equitable tax collection, democratic responsiveness, everyday honesty, and even our health and happiness.

This is part of the conclusion reached in the book Bowling Alone,  by Robert D. Putnam. In this book and his follow-up, Better Together: Restoring the American Community, Putnam describes our loss of what he calls “social capital” and how people across the country are inventing new forms of social activism and community renewal. Thinking about the concept of social capital, too, has caused the Board of the Griffin Neighborhood Association to consider what role it could play to increase a feeling of connectedness among those of us living in the Griffin Area.

It may seem a strange start, but the concepts in Putnam’s books have produced the Steamboat Neighborhood stickers now seen on vehicles all along the length of our peninsula. What’s the story behind the Steamboat Neighborhood logo and the more than 3000 stickers distributed free to residents in our area?

Missy Watts, a local resident, realtor, and member of the Board of the Griffin Neighborhood Association read Bowling Alone. At a GNA Board meeting last year, she described the principle of social capital and asked what the Association could do to help restore the social fabric of our peninsula’s neighborhoods. “Growing up in the barrier islands called The Golden Isles off the coast of Georgia,” Watts said, “one island and several neighborhoods from a bigger island had stickers that identified drivers as residents. It was always fun to see people ‘in town’, as we called the mainland, who were neighbors. Because the Golden Isles are a tourist destination, the stickers also identified us a locals, which was important to us as well.” This was the genesis of the idea that lead to the stickers.

Local graphical artist Bryan Douglas created the distinctive heron and Steamboat Neighborhood artwork, contained within an oval frame. Mr. Douglas then did something a little bit extraordinary. He released the copyright to his work. The Steamboat Neighborhood logo is now licensed under Creative Commons and is available for use by individuals and businesses. Under this license, you are free to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work and to make commercial use of the work.

The Steamboat Neighborhood logo is not a service mark for the Griffin Neighborhood Association. Residents and businesses in the Steamboat area are invited to use the logo to distinguish yourself and your business as one which is local to the Steamboat area. You do not need to attribute the logo to Mr. Douglas. But, you may not suggest the artist endorses you or your use of his work. You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.

Click here for a high-quality image of the Steamboat Neighborhood artwork, which you are welcome to use.

It doesn’t matter whether you are involved in a local faith community, volunteer for the Griffin Fire Department or at one of our local schools, are a member of the Prosperity Grange or the Griffin Neighborhood Association, or are a leader for one of your children’s youth groups. You are helping to build social capital – the social fabric of our community.

And the next time you see someone driving a car with a Steamboat Neighborhood sticker on it, give ’em a wave. They’re one of your neighbors.

Click here for more information about social capital.

Join our GriffinNeighbors online discussion group, “like” us on Facebook, attend an event on our community calendar, visit with your neighbors. . . Increase your connections here, in your home neighborhood. 

Griffin Fire Department 2012 Annual Report Describes Some of the Many Ways They Serve

Residents attending the Community Meeting on January 31st heard from Griffin Fire Chief John Wood. Chief Wood also made available at that meeting copies of the Department’s 2012 Annual Report. If you missed the Community Meeting, you can download your own copy of that Report by clicking here. It makes for interesting reading, particularly if you think ours is a sleepy little fire district which sees little action. According to the Report, “The Griffin Fire Department serves approximately 6000 people located in a 26 square mile area . . . and responds to approximately 450-500 calls per year.”

The web site of the Thurston County Assessor, states roughly 8.25% of property taxes go to support local fire districts. In our area, that money supports a fire department which provides not only aid in time of emergency, but a variety of other benefits to the community. A glance at the Report’s Calendar of Events page reveals a little of the community education activities the Department undertakes. Among its other activities, the Department provides fire prevention training for students at the Griffin School District and Steamboat Island Cooperative Preschool. A visit to the Fire Department’s web site reveals also that the Department provides address signs to help identify homes, notary public services, blood pressure checks, and offers smoke detectors and smoke detector batteries. By appointment, you can also have your child’s car seat and its installation in your car checked.

The mission of the Griffin Fire Department is “To promote, deliver, and preserve a feeling of security, safety, and a quality level of service to the citizens of our community.”

In 2012, the fire district celebrated 50 years of service to our community. The Annual Report includes an interesting recitation of the history of the fire department.

In 1968 the Department responded to its 100th call.
In 1978 they exceeded that number in just one year.

We commend the first responders, administration, and Commissioners of the Griffin Fire Department. The 2012 Annual Report provides a glimpse into some of the many ways the Department provides service to our neighbors.

For more information about the Griffin Fire Department, including information about how to volunteer to serve with the Department, visit their web site at

St. Christopher’s to Build a Community Food Bank Garden

St. Christopher’s Community Church has begun clearing land for a new community garden to grow produce for local families. You may already be aware that St. Christopher’s is an official satellite location of the Thurston County Food Bank. A site assessment was donated by South Sound Solar, who helped to find a good location on the St. Christopher property to situate the garden. Earlier this month, a work party convened to begin to clear the site for the garden.

The members of St. Christopher’s have stepped up to help bring this project to fruition and folks from outside the St. Christopher’s faith community are now coming forward to help, too. Can you help build this community garden?

You can help by:

Volunteering your time or expertise.

Making a donation of:

  • Building supplies
  • Deer fencing
  • Gardening tools and supplies
  • Seeds and/or starts

Or by making a financial donation.

Please contact the church office if you are interesting in digging in and joining this community-wide effort.

St. Christopher’s Community Church
7902 Steamboat Island Road NW
Olympia, WA 98502

By phone at 360-866-2111 or e-mail

St. Christopher’s Community Church is online at

The Griffin School Parent Teacher Organization, too, is planning a garden at the Griffin School. They have received approval from the school district, have identified a location, and even have received a grant to help fund the project. They plan to break ground and install garden beds in February. The garden will be used by teachers and students grades K-8 and some of the harvest will be donated to the Food Bank. Contact Elena Kuo-Harrison at for more information or to volunteer for the garden at the Griffin School.

The Road to Wholeness

As this year draws to a close and the season of giving is upon us, many will wonder what they truly want. This happens to me every year, because people ask me what I’d like to receive and I haven’t a clue. This really frustrates the person asking, but it really is true. I really don’t know.

Well, I do know what I want – it just isn’t anything that can be bought. I want to be together with loved ones, sharing the joy of the season. I want peace, as many us do, especially in the wake of the recent tragic shootings.

And, wanting peace can be a satisfying answer for a while, at least for me.

But, if I ask myself, long enough, what is it I really want, I can come up with 4 answers: I want deep, meaningful, long-lasting friendships; I want health for myself and those I love; I want money – at least enough to pay the bills, but I really want enough to do something meaningful with; and I want time enough to do what needs to be done, but moreso time enough to spend quality time with friends.

Some with wisdom, tell us that if we want these things in our lives, we have to be friends with them. For instance, most people will not have money in their lives if they are not friends with money. That may be true, but it’s not a very satisfying answer when you’re broke and needing money. But I thought I’d try being friends with these 4 things. Then, maybe my life would be perfect.

That didn’t work. It took a while, but I found that my relationship problems weren’t with money, time, health, or relationships. The person I wasn’t a friend with was myself. Now, it’s not that I hated myself. But there were certain aspects of my life I wasn’t fond of. First, of all, there were these dag-nab emotions. Slowly, very slowly, I became friends with my emotions. I started with the simple ones – like joy. And, eventually, even offered friendship to emotions like loneliness. After 50 years of living in the dull-drums, most of which were lived as a Vulcan without emotion, the Happy Baby I was born as, took control once more; though not without a fight.

But, even though Happy Baby was in control, life wasn’t perfect.

I learned how to drop deeper and deeper into my heart – out of my brain loops. The first place I found was very pleasant. But as I dropped deeper, I found all my worries and tried to fix all of them. Some of that was helpful, but there were just too many, so I dropped deeper into my heart. I got to a place where everything seemed possible. That was great, but only for a while. I needed to go deeper. Going deeper took me to a place where I faced my worst nightmare, the one I denied existed, the one I hadn’t faced my entire life. And there was only one choice – to acknowledge that pain and drop even deeper. At that deepest point was a place of connection, I just had to brush all the little baked on specs off the rim of the jar that is me, so that it can be sealed with a lid. Painful, excruciatingly painful to brush of those specs, but short-lived. Then I felt connected as I never had before – to life, the universe, to everything – and I could relax.

Being connected is NICE! And once I took that route, I could return often to being connected, usually much faster than the first time.

But it didn’t give me those things I wanted – deep friendships, health for my family, money, and time. At least it didn’t give me enough of them to satisfy me. So, I started again to wonder if I really wanted those things.

It’s not that I didn’t want those things, I wanted something more. I noticed that although, some parts of my fractured self were becoming less fractured as I became friends with those parts; there were others that were still fractured. For instance, I spent my life in one of three places – my physical sphere, my emotional sphere, or my spiritual sphere. But I rarely spent time in two of those spheres at the same time, and never in all three. Wanting the pain of that fracture to end, I allowed those spheres to come together and overlap.

And, as my fractured self became less fractured, I realized that what I really wanted was Wholeness, which I suppose is the same thing as Peace. And, with that realization, I resist it less and less. I keep moving towards Wholeness, even if sometimes it seems I’m moving in the wrong direction. I keep moving towards the type of Wholeness where I keep falling madly in love with my life over and over again!

We’re all on the road to wholeness. Some of us are more aware of it than others. We’re all taking different paths to get there, but many will encounter these things on their journey – Living from the heart, rather than the brain; Deep Connections; Loving yourself and your life to pieces; Happiness; Relationship becomes everything; and days when you realize you’re living in Paradise.

Dale Stubbart
Yellow Bear Journeys
A Friend on your Journey

Good GRuB Cookbook Benefits Community Garden Partner

Overrun with zucchini? Too many tomatoes? Wondering how that innocent package of seeds or those vegetable starts turned into the bushels of produce filling your garden? Have no fear.

GRuB – Garden Raised Bounty – offers a fantastic new cookbook, The GOOD GRuB, Making the Most of the Garden’s Edible Gifts, for your enjoyment. Take advantage of your garden’s bounty with the GOOD GRuB cookbook. Packed with 240 tasty recipes, the chapters are organized by vegetable families to make finding that just right recipe quick and easy. Try dishes like Arugula & Beet Salad, Summer Vegetable Pie, and Zucchini Lasagna. Warm yourself up with Pumpkin Caraway Soup, Creamy Carrot Soup, or North African Stew.

Appetizers, beverages, breads, and desserts are among the recipes that round out the collection, all using fresh produce from the garden. There are also chapters devoted to fruits, herbs, and edible flowers, and one that will help you create gifts using garden ingredients. The final chapter, The Cook’s Helpers, includes such helpful information as culinary terms, food equivalents, substitutions, and stocking the pantry. From Easy Tomato Sauce to Rhubarb Crumble, you are sure to find both old favorites and new winners in this collection.

GRuB is a non-profit organization working in Thurston and Mason counties in the South Puget Sound region of Washington State. Their mission is to inspire positive personal and community change by bringing people together around food and agriculture. To fulfill this mission GRuB partners with youth and low-income families to create empowering individual and community food solutions by offering activities, trainings, tools and resources to help build a just and sustainable food system. They are helping to create a community garden on our peninsula, at St. Christopher’s Community Church.

Only $18 for this useful cookbook. All proceeds go to support GRuB’s work with low-income youth and families in our community. Order your copy from Linda Bondurant, one of the compilers and editors, and a local Griffin Neighborhood Association member, at 360-866-1214. Or click here to go online and find out about GRuB and order your copy of the Good GRuB cookbook. Or contact GRuB directly at 360-753-5522, 2016 Elliott Ave NW, Olympia, WA 98502.

Griffin Foundation Auction, Prosperity Grange Dinner, Other Local Events for Your Calendar

Back to school shopping complete? Check. Kids off to first days of school? Check. Here are some additional local events to add to your calendar:

Griffin Fire Department 50th Anniversary Open House
September 8
9:00am to 3:00pm
Griffin Fire Department Headquarters
3707 Steamboat Loop NW, Olympia, Washington 98502

Click here for our article regarding this event.

Griffin School Foundation 2012 Dinner & Auction. “The Steamboat Stampede”
September 8
5:30pm to 10:00 pm
Steamboat Island Driving Range

Traditionally, this event is one the largest private, non-profit auctions in Thurston County. Join us for this year’s event which is on track to be an extraordinary evening! Live Auction officiated by Pat Cashman. Tickets are $50/person and includes admission, dinner and a drink.
Click here for more information.

Celebrity Chef Xinh Dwelley Dinner to Benefit Prosperity Grange
October 8
5:30pm to 8:30 pm
Prosperity Grange

Join local celebrity chef Xinh for a cooking demonstration, dinner and local wine, to benefit the Prosperity Grange. Door prize, raffle, silent auction. Tickets $50 each. Call Faye Olson (534-0456) or Jane Morgan (701-6502) for information and to purchase tickets. Thank you to sponsors Taylor United, Xinh’s Clam & Oyster House, Blissful Wunders, and the Dirt Divas.

Madrona Grove Annual “An Apple Affair”
October 21
12:00pm to 4:00pm
Rignall Hall
Steamboat Island Rd NW and Urquhart Rd NW

Join us for An Apple Affair, Madrona Grove’s annual apple tasting and community apple potluck. More details will be announced soon.

Do you have a local event you would like to promote? Email us at

Thurston County Seeks Solutions to Single-Use Plastic Bags

Residents in Thurston County use an estimated 90 million plastic shopping bags per year. On average, each bag is used for only 12 minutes. Besides the energy and resources used to make bags, they can affect our environment and create a financial burden on local government when we are done using them.

Thurston County Solid Waste has been busy this summer working with the community to discuss issues related to plastic bag use. They are seeking input from residents, businesses, and non-profits on how we can reduce our use.  They encourage residents to get involved through the below activities:

Check out the webpage set up by Thurston County Solid Waste, full of information and studies, at  There, the public can sign up for periodic emails about the project and planned activities.

At the website, you can also take the Plastic Bag Survey – over 1,700 residents have completed it. We have been surveying at stores and special events as well  – participants get a free reusable bag. 

Eight community meetings have been scheduled for mid-August to mid-September. These are all listed on the web site as well. Thurston County Solid Waste hopes you will join them for these important discussions.

If you are a member of a community group, you may want to know that Solid Waste staff is available for presentations on the topic of plastic bags.  They also have several copies of the entertaining documentary “Bag It” if you would like to coordinate a viewing for your church, neighborhood, or community group. To view a trailer for the film, just go to their website You can also rent the movie for home use on services such as Amazon or Netflix. For more information, please contact Loni Hanka at or (360) 867-2282.

The Thurston County Solid Waste Advisory Council meets the 2nd Thursday of each month from 11:30-1 at Thurston County Public Works, 9605 Tilley Road SW, Olympia, WA 98512. The public is always invited to attend and share their comments. Mark Daniels of the American Progressive Bag Alliance (the Plastics Industry) has been invited to do a presentation at the next meeting on August 9. 

Community input is critical as the folks from Solid Waste work to identify possible solutions to the growing problem of single-use shopping bags. Visit their webpage and send them an email from there, or give them a call and share your thoughts.

For more information, contact:
Terri Thomas
Education & Outreach Specialist III
Thurston County Solid Waste
9605 Tilley Road SW
Olympia, WA 98512-9140
Phone: 360-867-2279
Fax: 360-867-2295

Griffin Fire Department to Celebrate 50th Anniversary on September 8

The Griffin Fire Department was formed on September 11, 1962. The name Griffin comes from Judge Griffin, who donated land for a new school after the old Schneider’s Prairie Schoolhouse burned to the ground in the summer of 1926.

The Griffin Fire Department covers approximately the same area as the Griffin School District. The department patch pictures a griffin (a mythical beast who rises from the ashes) holding a hose and axe.

The Griffin Fire Department invites all to join their 50 year anniversary celebration, and meet their members. They will have refreshments, fire extinguisher demo, burn prop demo, vehicle extrication demo, blood pressure checks, CPR demo, 9v replacement batteries for smoke detectors, smoke detectors, smoke house for kids, address signs, and fire extinguishers. The Washington State Patrol, Thurston County Sheriffs Dept., Medic One, and Airlift NW will be joining the fire department to meet and answer your questions.

Open House
September 8
9:00am to 3:00pm
Griffin Fire Department Headquarters

3707 Steamboat Loop NW, Olympia, Washington 98502

Help get out the word about this event. Click here to download the flyer and pass it on to a friend.

We hope to see you there!

Call the fire department at 866-9000 for more information.