Stories are powerful ways to see the impact of your actions. As a part of our 2014 Accountability Report we wanted you to see the impact your support makes for people across Western Washington. Here is the another of those stories - a profile about how the Balansay family found a hobby that brought them together as a family and made a difference in their community.
While some families enjoy hiking, boating or softball, this family loves shoveling frozen food, sorting boxes of donated food and inspecting pallets full of potatoes. It began 8 years ago when Doni Balansay came into volunteer with a group of her co-workers from UPS. She loved the fast-paced, concrete work and thought it would be a great chance for her family to give back together. The next week she brought her husband Carlos and their children, 13 year-old Brianna, 11 year-old Benjamin, and 8 year-old Bradley. The youngsters soon fell in love with volunteering.
“My kids never complained, in fact they liked it,” says Doni. “We always get excited wondering what project we’ll get to work on. The boys’ favorite has always been shoveling frozen vegetables.”
Sometimes our donors give us food “in need” of a little TLC. Bulk potatoes need re-packing, cans of salmon need labeling, or giant boxes of vegetables need sorting. It takes time energy and a lot of heart. For the Balansays, volunteering on Wednesday nights at Food Lifeline soon became a family tradition.
“It was a beautiful way to introduce our kids to the idea that giving back needs to be a habit. And it didn’t hurt that we made it a weekly treat by going out to Applebee’s afterwards,” says Doni with a quick laugh.
Food Lifeline Volunteer Coordinator Ben Morris remembers when the Balansay family first started coming to Food Lifeline.
“They were always such enthusiastic hard workers, always enjoying their time together. It’s been amazing to see how kids I first met when they were little kids are now volunteering on their college breaks," says Ben. "
The Balansays are proud of their children, and the lessons of service they learned early on. Today, Brianna is nearing graduation from Stanford University, and hoping to pursue a career in medicine. Benjamin is studying at USC, while Bradley is a junior at Seattle Prep.
“We love helping. We are not rich, but we can help,” says Doni, “I pray every night for people who are hungry.”