Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

June 25, 2013

Clark now the ‘new Bob Owen’ at RCH

New operations coordinator has passion for nonprofits

ASHLAND — Terri Clark has found an easy way to tell people about her new job as operations coordinator for River Cities Harvest.

“I introduce myself as the new Bob Owen. Those are some pretty hard shoes to fill. He did a wonderful job,” Clark said last week while enjoying a few moments between deliveries and pick ups at the RCH office and storage facility within The Neighborhood building at the corner of 25th Street and Carter Avenue in Ashland.

Clark, a 1995 graduate of Paul G. Blazer High School, who was “born and raised” in Ashland said she got her first taste of nonprofit work while attending Ashland Community College during her time as an intern working with Linda Ball at the Greater Ashland Foundation, as well as Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital. She majored in journalism during her time as a student at Marshall and briefly worked part-time as a sports writer.

“I am the most non-athletic person ... I don’t have one sports cell in my body, but I love sports,” she said. “But, nonprofits have been my passion.”

Clark explained RCH “works as a clearinghouse and does not directly feed the public,” instead supplying area food pantries and nutrition programs with foods contributed by individuals and corporations, as well as inmates at Ashland’s Federal Correctional Institution participating in the Master Gardener program through the Boyd County Extension Service. Volunteers pick up and deliver each load, she said, praising the efforts of individuals “who operate like clock work,” to get foods to and from those who have a surplus and others who don’t have enough.

“We have a wonderful volunteer base. I have been amazed by the time and commitment of our volunteers,” she said, adding, “I would love to bring in some of the younger generation and educate them about the need for volunteers for an organization like this. River Cities Harvest runs because of them.”

During her first day on the job, Clark said she nearly had more to do than she could handle. Shortly after she turned the lights on that morning, Clark said a truckload of fresh food from Walmart arrived outside and had to be unloaded. An hour later, a load of fresh produce from the minimum-security prison arrived.

“You have to move it. I’m still trying to find people who can use collard greens,” she said with a chuckle, explaining she still had an abundance of the leafy greens in the nearby walk-in cooler. The collards were enthusiastically received by members of Christ Temple in Ashland the following Monday.

“We are still waiting for the first load of tomatoes and beans,” Clark said, adding demand for that produce is always strong.

River Cities Harvest in an organization “in transition,” Clark noted, explaining the agency should be able to hire a part-time assistant soon, but will no longer have a VISTA person to help manage the daily duties.

“We have an incredible donor base and we do some fundraising, but we are primarily supported through donations,” Clark said, adding she hopes to spur additional donations of non-perishable foods by encouraging things like the “Food Feud” between Ashland and Boyd County schools.

“I want to take that to other places where there are rivalries,” she said, chuckling before adding “Fairview and Raceland have been going at it for years!”

On her second day working at RCH, Clark said she was thrilled to receive a call from Naomi Judd’s assistant informing her the local country music legend had just finished a benefit concert, “and of course, she thought of us,” adding her personal appreciation for Judd’s commitment to the Feeding America program. While the Feed America shipments are only a portion of RCH’s annual food distribution, Clark said Judd’s personal endorsement goes a long way toward helping the local agency.

Clark said she also hopes to advance campaigns such as the peanut butter donations during Ashland’s annual Christmas Parade.

“Peanut butter, a box of crackers and a loaf of bread ... that goes a long way,” she said.

A longtime fitness enthusiast as well as owner of a beauty salon on Carter Avenue, Clark said she has few interests or hobbies outside of her family and professional obligations.

“I’m the mother of four children ... and five dogs. I have no spare time!”

For more information about River Cities Harvest at 2516 Carter Ave., visit rivercitiesharvest.org  or call (606) 324-3663.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com.

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