Volunteer Stories

Frank Grey, Driver
Central Market and Albertsons Runs

About 7 years ago, Frank Grey’s sister-in-law found herself needing some help and received it from Fishline. Frank didn’t forget that, and he decided he would find a way to repay the kindness. So he took the 5 a.m. Central Market Route, not for just one day each week– but for two. He has ever since driven this route on Wednesdays and Fridays, rain or shine, dark or light. And he loves it. “I think it’s something that needs to be done.”

 As if that isn’t commendable enough, let’s add another surprising element. Frank is 91 years old. And you would never know it. He runs 15 miles a week, plays golf and keeps up with his 6 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren. Frank thinks that he’s slowing down, because he used to run 80 miles a week. He was a marathon runner, running 75 marathons all over the country. “Honolulu was my favorite – I ran it 11 times”, he recounts. Frank started running when he was 51 and hasn’t stopped in 40 years. Often he would run with other joggers much younger than himself. He used to run with boys decades younger than him, who happened to be coached by another Fishline volunteer, Gordie Stenerson. It was just this year that a hip opera-tion took him off the circuit for a little while, but already he is back mowing his yard and doing other activities he loves. He plans on returning to Fishline to continue his service with an organization he’s grown to love. 

Frank’s career started as a firefighter, driver-operator and Fire Captain for the Naval Air Station in 1947. He moved to Poulsbo when he was transferred to Keyport in 1961, then to the Sub base Bangor. He retired from Civil Service in 1976, but went on to be a Fire Chief for Pan Am and United Airlines, then Johnson Controls. He finally really retired in 1986 so he could enjoy more time with his family and his hobbies of golf and flower gardening.

 While Frank was stationed in Camp Jackson, he noticed two women walking down the road and asked them if they wanted a ride. Frank hit it off with one of the women, Margaret Jane, and after a short courtship they married. That was 71 years ago in June. Frank and Margaret Jane have three children; the oldest, Larry, lives in Portland and is a baseball coach for Concordia University. He and his wife have three children who have seven children. His daughter Penny lives in Warrenton, Oregon and retired from her job at one of the canneries. The youngest, Lee, lives in Mazatlan, Mexico where he operates an import/export business from his computer. Lee’s three children live nearby and Frank and Margaret Jane take care of them a couple of days each week. Frank keeps in touch with all his family via Skype, which helps him feel like he lives closer to them.

 One of our interview questions is to ask volunteers when they were particularly courageous. For many of us, we’d have to take time to think of an example of our brave action. Frank could answer quickly, because he remembers well a day when he was in the service and a soldier in his company had a really close call. This soldier was accustomed to hanging a grenade from his pocket so he could quickly grab it and throw it when necessary. One day, the grenade fell from his pocket, but the pin wasn’t in it – it was still connected to his pocket. Without a moment to think of the danger, Frank picked up the live grenade and lobbed it far from his group. It exploded upon impact, saving many from injury or death. He also remarked that courage was needed before every marathon he ran. “It is a little anxious standing at the line at the starting gate before a 26-mile marathon.”

 If the adage “you are as young as you feel” is true, than Frank can subtract decades off his age. He has no aches and pains, his knees have carried him over thousands of running miles and his mind and spirit seem ageless.

 Way to go, Frank!

Charles Dewilde

The Unsung Heroes of 5 a.m.

Charlie Dewilde didn’t take the 5 am run on Mondays without a bit of concern.  “I’m not a morning person”, he admits, so waking up that early every week, and on a Monday no less, was a bit of a challenge.  But now, after consistently doing this run for three years, missing no more than one week per year, he automatically wakes up at the right time on the right day.

When asked why he chose to help Fishline, he told us that he’s always appreciated the work done here, but knew he wanted to do more than admire its mission.  One of his favorite sayings is, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”   He wanted to do something tangible, so when he called and found out we needed this help, he agreed.

Charlie has known from a young age that he wanted to help people.  His leaning was toward the area of healing, especially in the alternative medicine field.  He was drawn to body science, where people got better without pills or surgery.  But it wasn’t until he had a personal experience that he could zero in on where to focus.  He was a young man and had back and digestive problems.  After many tests and other attempts to get better, he visited an area chiropractor.  This doctor took xrays, made adjustments to his alignment, and Charlie’s digestive problems went away.  It was a profound experience for him, and he vowed that someday he would heal others in the way he was healed.

No one in his family had graduated from college before, but Charlie was determined and attended a college in Bakersfield, CA.   When he graduated, he went to work for the very same chiropractor who had helped him so many years before.  After that, he opened his own office in Bakersfield, where he worked for 12 years.

While he was an intern at chiropractic school, he met a patient and fell in love.  He and Kahti married and have two boys, Charles, 13 and Dan, 10.  Kahti is a registered dietician and works with the Port Gamble S’Kallum Tribe Health Center.

Charlie lived in California all his life, but as it became more crowded, the Dewildes made a decision to move to a quieter, smaller community.  “We wanted to raise our kids in a small town.”  They considered many different areas, but when they visited a friend in Bainbridge, they were charmed by the beauty and intimacy of the community.  They researched Washington, found out it was a good state for chiropractic science and the schools were great.  They also liked that it was such a beautiful resort town yet so close to a thriving big city.  So they moved to Poulsbo 8 years ago.

Aside from his thriving Chiropractic practice, and attending baseball practices with his boys, Charlie’s interests keep him busy.  “I’m an idea person, especially as the ideas relate to having fun”, and that has translated into creating events in the area that have helped people do just that.  He started the Poulsbo Americana Music Festival, now in its fourth year, which is also a fundraiser for the Chamber of Commerce and Fishline.  This year, the Festival will move downtown, and it’s expected that it will be even more of a success than years past.  He also started the Bainbridge Music Festival.

Charlie’s spirituality is also an important part of who he is.  When we asked what he does that makes him lose track of time, his answer was “learning more about God”.  But Charlie is about moving from words to action, so that’s why he started a Men’s Discipleship group which meets at his office on Saturdays at 7 a.m.  The early hour is appreciated by the group, since it doesn’t break up the day.  He also loves to read books on self improvement and spirituality.  He believes that, as we get older, it’s important to feel challenged and to keep growing.  “Complacency is a danger for anyone”, he says.  When asked what he means by complacency, he believes its thinking you have all the answers, thinking you have no more room to grow, or no one needs your help.  In fact, he says, “Aging slows when we stay involved and serving”.

If that is indeed the case, Charlie will live to be 120.  And chances are, he’ll be helping our community all the way.

Candy and Dennis Peters

When Candy Peters and her husband Dennis attended a Lion's Club meeting last year, a presentation about Fishline "galvanized us to do something". Dennis took on the 5 am Thursday Central Market run, and Candy trained to be a food prep worker. She became a substitute, often dropping everything to come to work when the need arose. She became an invaluable member of whatever team she joined, working hard and with a calm assurance.

She took on a regular shift as pricer for Mon-day mornings and loved it. “I love going through the donations and getting them ready to sell.” Later, when a call went out for help as Cashier on Friday mornings, again Candy stepped in to fill the hole.

Candy had an idyllic childhood, growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. She and her four brothers and sisters would spend summers at the family cottage near Lake Geneva. When it was time to choose a college, she went to the University of Illinois and majored in Political Science. After graduation, she went to work for the President of the Illinois State Senate. In-stead of inspiring Candy to continue in the field of politics, the experience had the opposite af-fect. She speaks frankly of her time in local politics, conveying her disappointment with the lack of morals and character in local politicians, including her boss. She was disheartened when she learned about all the "wheeling and deal-ing" necessary to get things passed and the compromises made.

She left the position to work for a company that provided educational training for legislators and then ultimately got a job at a hospital. That was when she met Dennis, moved to Ireland and raised a family.

Family remains very important to Candy. She believes her greatest life accomplishment is raising her children. When she shares stories illustrating the strong character and talents of her three adult sons, she tears up with pride. Each son, in his own way, has grown up to be good, kind and strong. She also has a great relationship with her daughters-in-law. The relationship is so good, in fact, that her oldest son and his family chose to buy a house up the street so they could be closer to Dennis and Candy. She and Dennis babysit frequently and are happy to do it. "I love being a grandma and I'm good at it!"

Now that her children have grown, Candy has more time on her hands so she volunteers often. "I have to do volunteer work to be happy", she says. So she helps Fishline by working both at the food bank and the thrift shop and also helps out at Geor-gia's House, a shelter in Bremerton. She had vol-unteered at the severe weather shelter last year, but she's not sure if this will be available next year.

Aside from her family and volunteer work, Candy loves to read ("British mysteries are my fa-vorite") and travel. She is also the person you want around in a crisis, because she has a natural ability to stay calm and level-headed no matter how difficult the circumstances. When friends re-mark that she must have been scared about moving to another country, that surprises Candy since it takes a lot for her to lose her composure or her courage.

In addition to her weekly shift as Cashier, Candy has become a trained Ebay trader, listing the more special items on Ebay and coordinating their sales. This is becoming the fastest-growing part of our sales and that’s thanks in large part to the work of volunteers like Candy.

What a perfect match she is for the jobs she's chosen at Fishline. Volunteers such as Candy make it possible for Fishline to operate 6 days a week without interruption in service. Thanks, Candy, for bringing your unflappable spirit to our world!

Gene and Sandra Fullerton

Gene and Sandra live overlooking the bay on Fjord Drive, a few blocks south of Fishline, so they can avoid the problem of driving to work on Thursdays.   They are the sixth generation living in a 110 year old remodeled home.   Five generations ago, Gene’s family bought the house from the first owner, when Fjord Drive was only a cow trail.  They both quit full time jobs in 2004.  When they retired, they knew they wanted to find a way to give back by helping their community.  A friend and previous neighbor, Jim Harney, recommended we contact Gene and Sandy.  We’re so glad we followed Jim’s advice!  Now, they work as a team in the food bank one morning a week but fill in many other times when the need exists.  

Gene went to NK High before ending up at Washington State for BS degrees in Construction Management.  Sandy went to high school on Mercer Island then went to college at Yakima Valley College.  She then worked for the NK School district for over 30 years specializing in special education.  Gene worked as a construction manager on many jobs, including Bill Gates’ house in Bellevue, where he worked for 6 years.  They haveboth been involved in community service, especially the BoyScouts and the Sons of Norway. They have two full grown children - Steve (in Renton) and Shanley (in Mill Creek).

Sandy’s favorite experience at Fishline was giving an unexpected bouquet of flowers to a senior citizen who came in as a client.  Gene likes keeping the bread shelves neat all day.  Sandy really enjoys taking care of her five grandchildren.  Gene and Sandy also speak a little Norwegian, a language that often can be heard around Poulsbo.   The Fullertons enjoy cruising in their RV, camping at parks such as Fort Warden.  They have spent many hours sailing around Puget Sound.  You will never catch them without a smile on their faces when they are at Fishline!

Carmen Hassold:  In Her Own Words

The economy hit a major low, and I was feeling depressed about how it was affecting so many people, myself included. That's when I remembered my parents saying "Don't think about yourself, serve others and you'll feel better in no time." That statement is so true, and I became a North Kitsap Fishline food bank volunteer. 
I work as a volunteer sorting produce and placing the chosen produce in the market for our clients. As a produce sorter, we are trained to present the best possible products to our clients on a daily basis. We also fill the request for emergency boxes, that include various items clients receive once each month. 
Being a volunteer has been most rewarding. I work with a group of wonderful people who spend their time at Fishline filled with laughter and work. Working with these ladies weekly creates a strong and positive environment that seems to keep all of us coming back. This is the feeling all the volunteers and staff generate. 
Fishline is truly "Neighbors Helping Neighbors". When I am through volunteering for the day, I feel truly thankful and grateful for all the fine, hard-working people who make up this organization and the opportunity to participate.

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