Tri-City volunteers help drive out hunger

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldDecember 2, 2012 

Brian Baumann had an idea of the route he'd be traveling. First, he'd swing by a bakery outlet in Kennewick. "After that, I think we're going to hit a few banks," he said.

Then he let out a laugh.

He's not a getaway driver, even though it might have sounded that way.

But he is a wheel man -- for Second Harvest, a nonprofit supplying food banks in the Mid-Columbia.

Baumann, 59, of Richland, spends one morning a week piloting a Second Harvest truck around the Tri-Cities. He delivers empty containers to groups and businesses -- such as banks -- staging food drives. And he hauls the donations to the new distribution center in Pasco.

He's one of about eight people who regularly volunteer as drivers or navigators for Second Harvest.

It's his way of making a difference. Check out today's Parade magazine for stories of others around the country who are working to fight hunger.

Baumann doesn't make his weekly Second Harvest runs alone. Bob Scott of Richland, a fellow volunteer, rides along with him, acting as a navigator and helping load and unload.

The men have been working together about six months and have an easy rapport.

"He puts up with me," Baumann said as he and Scott prepared to set off on a recent morning.

Baumann began volunteering with Second Harvest after he retired from Hanford, where he worked roughly 30 years.

More volunteers like him are needed to drive the trucks and ride along, especially in the next few weeks as area food drives ramp up, said Deborah Bourque, Second Harvest special events and volunteer coordinator.

Volunteers don't need to make a long-term commitment, and they can sign up even if they only can help out once for a few hours, she said.

The trucks are similar to large moving vans and don't require a special operator's license.

Second Harvest provides food to 55 food banks and agencies in the region. It distributed about 5.5 million pounds of food last year out of its former Kennewick facility. The new Pasco center has more cold storage and is about three times bigger.

Baumann, a father of two and grandfather of seven, said volunteering as a driver is a good fit for him.

He and Scott traded quips as they got their truck ready for the road. Around them, other workers buzzed around the stacks of boxes filled with food.

"Everyone you're working with here as a volunteer is involved in doing something they know (is important). There's a really positive attitude," Baumann said.

"I know from what I've seen that (the work) is making a difference."

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service