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Programs Under the Umbrella of The Cove

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The Cove Food Bank

The Methow Valley’s only food bank is open from 1 to 4 p.m. every Thursday at 128 Glover Street in Twisp. The door was opened in February 1998 by Glenn Schmekel and a handful of volunteers.

Today it is one of nine food banks in Okanogan County that receive food through Northwest Harvest, a statewide food distribution network. Sixty percent of the food The Cove gives out – about 2,000 pounds each month – comes from Northwest Harvest. Canned goods, gleanings from gardens, potatoes and other vegetables from large food producers are among the foods received for distribution in the Methow Valley.

Local donations make up the remaining 40 percent of food given out. There are gardeners who “plant a row for The Cove,” and orchardists who donate fruits such as apples and pears. Food drives are conducted through the valley’s post offices, supermarkets and schools.

Last fall’s twelfth annual food drive brought in 3,000 pounds of food. And the Methow Valley Elementary School gathered more than 1,600 items for the recently distributed Christmas food baskets that went to 125 families in need.

Hometown Pizza in Twisp bakes 70 loaves of pizza dough bread per week for The Cove, and local churches and markets have donation boxes. Individuals regularly drop food inside the back door.

“The need is always there,” says Schmekel.

The Aid and Assistance Fund

Established more than a decade ago, the Aid and Assistance Fund helps local residents facing financial emergencies such as an eviction notice, the shutoff of utilities or a car problem. Grants of up to $150 are given. More than 80 households were helped with emergency financial needs and financial counseling in 2009, the last year for which statistics are available. “We give away $10,000 to $12,000 a year,” Schmekel says. It’s all from private donations and golf-tournament fund-raisers. Gas vouchers for the local Chevron station also are available on a limited basis.

Guardian Angels

The Guardian Angels, directed by Eunice Marchbank, a registered nurse, consists of about 30 trained volunteers who assist seniors, the chronically ill and disabled individuals.

The program started locally in January 2002, but originated as part of a national project started by Robert Wood Johnson called ‘Faith in Action’ that gave one-time seed grants to establish local Guardian Angel groups. The concept was to have non-medical volunteers giving practical assistance to frail neighbors to help them continue to live independently.

Marchbank pays a visit to assess a potential client’s needs and matches them with an appropriate person to be a friend, do light chores, assist with shopping or provide a ride to an appointment. "It always works out and I love what I do," she said recently.

Anyone who would like a Guardian Angel, or knows someone who needs one, can call Marchbank at 996-2569. Those wanting to volunteer must commit to making weekly contact with their assigned person, and to visiting two or more hours a month. Perspective volunteers need to fill out an application – available at The Cove – and receive training and evaluation before being matched with a client.

Jamie’s Place

Two adult family homes in Winthrop, provide rooms with private bathrooms for 12 seniors. The first opened in 2007 and the second in 2009.  They are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are overseen by administrator/guide Sheila Brandenburg – a registered nurse with years of experience working in hospice and long-term care. Jamie’s Place provides the only long-term residential elder care in the Methow Valley. Its existence has created 12 full-time jobs.

Jamie’s Place is named for former valley resident Jamie Finlan, who died of cancer about six years ago. She bequeathed her estate to The Cove to use as it saw fit. And at the time, “long-term elder care was the biggest need we saw,” says Schmekel. Finlan’s property was sold and the proceeds were used to buy the land and start the project at 109 Norfolk St. in Winthrop.

Jamie’s Place is the first official “Green House Project” residence in the state. That means it is one of more than 100 homes built nationwide based on the philosophy of William Thomas, a doctor whose goal was to de-institutionalize long-term care for the frail elderly by establishing small group homes on a residential scale that could provide support, including skilled nursing care. To learn more about Green Houses go to

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

For more than 20 years Christmas food baskets and gifts for children have been provided by Neighbors Helping Neighbors, which became part of The Cove in 2010. Parents and grandparents of more than 100 children selected gifts at the Manger Mall in early December and food baskets were delivered to 125 families on Dec. 17.

Methow Resource Recovery

Mary Thomson is the founding manager of Methow Resource Recovery, which recycles building materials from a location in south Twisp. Volunteers collect and resell supplies and donate the proceeds to local non-profit groups. The MRR site is open spring through fall.

For more information about any of The Cove programs call 997-0227. There is a web site, with some information, although Schmekel is the first to say, “We aren’t very techie” and the site is not updated.