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FISH honors advocates of the needy

Advocates of the Needy include ROMEO members Doug Zande, George Sinnott, Ralph Koblinski, Mel Kendziorski, Mike Brinkmann, Ken Rooney, Don Danko, Dick Sullivan and Jim Pearce; Crossroads for Youth residents Jalen B., Shaif A. and Gary G.; Valarie Cass and Taylor Aubin. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
June 16, 2010 - As it does every year, Oxford/Orion FISH honored those special individuals and groups who help the local charity in an efforts to aid needy people and families.

They gathered at the Lake Orion United Methodist Church on E. Flint St. for a luncheon to recognize all those volunteers who dedicate their time to feeding the needy and providing them with a variety of other essential goods and services.

Here are this year's honorees:

The ROMEOs For over two years, 12-15 good-looking guys descend upon the Pantry each time we have a delivery from Gleaners. These senior men call themselves "The ROMEOs," which stands for Retired Orion Men Eating Out. They have breakfast together on Thursdays, and when needed, head up to FISH for two hours of backbreaking work, unloading up to 7,000 pounds of food that has been delivered. These men unload, stock, and sort the food with humor and friendship. They are a joy to have as volunteers.

Bill Quinn He keeps the ramp, front, and back of the building shoveled of snow.

He keeps an eye out when something doesn't look right and doesn't hesitate to come over to the pantry to check and be sure all the gals are safe. He even pulled the former pantry coordinator's car off a snow mound when she got stuck in the parking lot.

When the pantry lost power before we had a generator donated, it was Bill Quinn who helped keep things running and safe. He is a true friend of FISH, a wonderful neighbor, and certainly an Advocate of the Needy.

Val Cass Seven years ago a newly retired Oxford teacher was looking for something to do when a friend suggested she try volunteering at FISH. She was immediately hooked and has increased her involvement each year. At first she was an office volunteer and then decided to become pantry coordinator. If you knew Val, it didn't take her long to try to get you involved in FISH, too. Pantry Coordinator (now retired), Client Reviewer, Board Member, and again an Office Volunteer.

Crossroads for Youth Boys Center For six years, young men from Crossroads have been coming to FISH on the second and fourth Saturday throughout the year to volunteer. They are eager to help in any capacity requested. They are our chief sources of muscle to move the countless numbers of crates each time from downstairs to up. They rotate the stock and see to it that all shelves are filled. Strangely enough, these boys have to earn the right to come to FISH on Saturdays to spend their morning of rest working hard and being Advocates of the Needy.

Taylor Aubin grew up working in the pantry with her mom. With her partner, Renee, she grew more confident and independent. Now she has a job, is graduating from Oxford High School, and moving on to a new phase in her life. FISH has enjoyed seeing this bubbly child grow into a fine woman.

Renee Carroll joined the FISH team as a home-schooled preteen. With Taylor, she packed boxes of food on Mondays for distribution. She quickly learned the new, self-service method in our Thomas building. Renee treated each client with respect. She too is moving on to a new phase in college. FISH is proud of the independent woman Renee has become. She is indeed an Advocate of the Needy.

John Cass As a journalism and English teacher, John loved his two years of writing the FISHline. But then FISH needed a president to help move the organization forward in its new building. A calm, thinking man, with a wonderful sense of humor, John was a good fit. As he weakened from leukemia, the organization grew. Everyone wanted to help see his dream of making our Oxford/Orion FISH a model for other non-profits. We've come a long way in "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" with John at the helm. He would be so proud that you have named him an Advocate of the Needy.

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