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Jose Ortiz has been working with the Tri-Parish Food Bank for more than 30 years — as a recipient, an organizer, and now as a volunteer (and husband of its current director). “For me it’s very rewarding, it’s been part of my life, and the life of my family,” he said. Ortiz said the food bank used to serve 200-300 families. Since the pandemic, it is now serving 2,200 families, and have given out 100,000 masks and bottles of hand sanitizer. Every Saturday, cars line up for food, toiletries and diapers – and now, every few weeks, a COVID-19 vaccine.

A food bank volunteer loads up donated bread loafs and buns on June 12. Photo by Meg Stephenson

“Today’s a special day here at the Tri-Parish Food Bank. We’re running the food bank like we normally do, but we’re also doing vaccination,” Ortiz said on June 12.

Food bank volunteers load up fresh radishes among many other grocery items on June 12. Photo by Meg Stephenson

Connecting through Skagit County Public Health, the Tri County Food Bank hosted a mobile medical team from Bird’s Eye Medical (BEM) out of Pierce County.

“I like that this drive-thru clinic was in addition to another need servicing the community,” said Shelley Kelly, RN and EMS director at BEM. “Personally I enjoy traveling and serving communities. Even if we only reach a few people on a specific day, it’s very rewarding.” The clinic gave 23 COVID vaccines on June 12. 

A young person gets their first COVID-19 vaccine on June 12. Photo by Meg Stephenson

Ortiz’s day job is director of the Farmworker Center through Catholic Community Services, and is a CCS Regional Network Builder. The Center provides rental assistance, immigration services, and food assistance to migrant workers and their families. Before the pandemic, the Center also provided classes such as sewing, computer skills and Spanish language, and provided a space for families to gather. 

Ortiz has strongly advocated for help for the migrant farmworker community, hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, “I got together with other leaders in the community and we put pressure on the governor, and the government, and we were in the media… and just [kept] putting pressure on the local health department [for assistance], but now we all work together,” Ortiz said. “At first I had to raise my voice and the concerns about our community but your organization [North Sound ACH] and others have done a great job working together and bringing services especially to the most needy.”

Listen to Jose Ortiz share his work in Spanish

More information:

Tri-Parish Food Bank; Saturdays 10am to 3pm @ 935 Peterson Road, Burlington WA (in the St. Charles Catholic Church parking lot)

People seeking food do not need to get out of the car. They just drive up and volunteers put the food in the car.  All state mandated safety guidelines are followed, meaning all are required to wear masks and social distancing is enforced. No ID required.

The Tri-Parish Food Bank is a cooperative effort of St. Charles Catholic Church in Burlington, Sacred Heart Catholic Church in La Conner, and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Mount Vernon. Each week many volunteers ensure that nutritious food is available to anyone who needs it.  Additional partners are Skagit Community Action Agency, Northwest Harvest, and Food Lifeline. (from St. Charles website)

Catholic Community Services (CCS) Network Builders & Pop-Up Vaccine Clinics

The CCS Regional Network Builders have coordinated with state and local public health departments and community groups/churches to offer pop up vaccine clinics across Western Washington. Mary Wahl, another CCS Network Builder in the Northwest region, coordinated a special vaccine clinic last month at the CCS Farmworker Center in Mount Vernon. The pop up vaccine clinic on June 12 was the second one hosted at the Tri-Parish Food Bank and they hope to continue to administer vaccines there every other week. The next vaccine distribution at the Tri-Parish Food Bank will be on June 26. (from Catholic Community Services)

Bird’s Eye Medical

If there is a community in need of a mobile clinic please reach out to your local health department or the ACH to inquire about scheduling a clinic. You can also reach out to Bird’s Eye Medical directly at (360) 688-7044. They want to help with vaccination efforts. (from BEM Project Manager Marshall Bishop)

COMING SOON!

North Sound ACH will also be partnering with Medical Teams International to provide mobile vaccine clinics. This is occurring through a project supported by Kaiser’s community benefit program, adding one more tool to augment the great work occurring across the region. Please reach out to us at Communications@NorthSoundACH.org for more information.

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