Amazing things continue to happen in Entiat, a town that in many ways lost its identity when Rocky Reach Dam was built and the original townsite was flooded in the 1950s. Sixty years later, it feels like the community is on the way and a new identity is being forged.
One thing that has never gone away in the community is the ethic of neighbors helping each other out. Entiat Valley Community Services epitomizes this can-do attitude as well as the ethic of finding ways to help people in need.
On Friday, EVCS held a grand opening celebration for its new facility — the Entiat Valley Community Services Food Bank Center — in a building that previously served as a bakery. This is a significant step forward. The town now has a one-stop shop for services that had been scattered all over town, in the grange hall, the school and in a decrepit tiny building that served as the food bank.
The new building serves all these needs and more. Besides the food bank, there's a clothing section, a place for kids to hang out and do homework and space for regular medical visits from Columbia Valley Community Health professionals. They've built partnerships with an array of organization to serve specific needs and there's a long list of programs to meet community needs.
That EVCS was able to get this done is nothing short of a miracle; owning a building seemed like an impossible dream goal a year ago. After all, this has been an organization with a budget in the hundreds of dollars. With the guidance of May and John Segle, Kathy Montgomery and Mike Seat, the group was able to get support from the state Department of Commerce the local medical community and other partners. An anonymous donation of $50,000 was crucial to securing the building. A bank loan for $49,000 is outstanding, so the community has work to do to get that paid off.
"Can you believe we're hear one year later," May Segle asked the crowd of about 40 people. "It's nothing short or a miracle." Bob Soule of the Community Action Council admitted he thought it would take them four or five years to make the project a reality. "You proved me wrong," he said with a chuckle.
Dr. Peter Rutherford, CEO of Confluence Health in Wenatchee, had an interesting perspective. He talked about the need for communities to take the initiative in caring for people. Health is more than just medical care, said Rutherford. It includes dental care, education, proper nutrition and social support. That's what EVCS is providing at a very low cost and with great effectiveness, he pointed out.
The project was a community-wide effort with lots of volunteers like Carl and Darlene Brooks, Mike Seat and Harvey Seat, Segle said. However, Segle is the straw that has been stirring the drink for this amazing project. Kathy Chance of the Department of Commerce said the diminutive Segle showed great perseverance in getting the project done. "She's the little engine that could," said Chance.
Adding to the festivities was a donation by the Pomona Grange of $500 to the building fund as well as a blessing of the facility by Colville Confederated tribal members Wendell George, Bennie Marchand, Dan Edwards and Robert Stafford.
We live in a society that prizes individual accomplishment above all else. The folks in Entiat remind us that working together in community for the greater good is every bit as crucial to the health and well being of everyone.