“It was another tough decision,” said Edmonds Kiwanis Club’s Frannie Cohen about the 2020 Citizen of the Year award. “We had more than 15 nominations. But as we sorted through them and discussed, the Edmonds Food Bank and Casey Davis’s name kept rising to the top.”
It’s not the first year that the work of Davis and the food bank volunteers came to the attention of selection committee. “They’ve been nominated many times in the past,” added Cohen.
The Citizen of the Year program started in 1994 with its first award to Stan and Valerie Dickison. Other winners have included city officials like Dave Earling (1995) and Laura Hall (1996), business owners like Rick Steves (2017), and My Edmonds News publisher Teresa Wippel (2019), as well as organizations like the Edmonds Floretum Garden Club (2015) and the Edmonds Petanque Club (2016).
On Monday evening, Davis received a phone call from Cohen informing her of the selection.
“I was so excited,” Davis said, adding that this year has been particularly daunting as she and the volunteers scrambled to keep providing food to their customers despite the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic.
In addition to instituting an online ordering and curbside pickup system to keep person-to-person contact to a minimum, the sheer volume of families and customers needing help has mushroomed with the pandemic.
“Since the COVID crisis began, we’ve added more than 700 new customers,” Davis said. “Last month alone we served more than 1,630 households, comprising just shy of 5,500 individuals, and more than 1,000 of these have some sort of special circumstances — no permanent home, diabetes, need for baby food, gluten intolerance, etc. — that we help provide for.”
“We’re running seven days a week now,” she explained, noting that most of the work she and the volunteers put in all leads up to the Monday-Tuesday food distribution days. “We’re also doing deliveries on Thursdays, and special drop-offs to community centers on Fridays.
“It’s a standing joke around here that I only work 30 hours per week,” she laughed.
Davis reported that in September alone, 157 volunteers put in a combined total of more than 2,500 hours and provided more than 175,000 pounds of food.
“I can’t imagine what her calendar must look like,” remarked Kiwanis President Juliana Van Buskirk, who added that the traditional brick naming Davis and the food bank volunteers has been ordered and will be placed in the Edmonds Historical Museum plaza as a permanent testament to them.
“In past years we’ve recognized our Citizen of the Year with a luncheon and an honored place in the Fourth of July parade, but with COVID we’re putting these on hold for now,” Van Buskirk explained.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel