Following the Thanksgiving holiday, Elisha Smith-Marshall was waiting outside her son’s school when a little girl she’d never met before handed her a flower.
“Her face beamed with joy as I took it and said, ‘Thank you!’ telling her it was beautiful and very kind of her,” Smith-Marshall says.
As she embarked on that stressful, post-holiday return to work and school, the exchange led the executive director of Plateau Outreach Ministries to ponder the thoughtful gift – exactly what she needed that day.
“She gave me a minute to reflect on what a wonderful community we’re part of,” Smith-Marshall says. “POM is blessed to be a part of this amazing community where wonderful donors each day contribute money, time and goods to help their neighbors in need they don’t even know.”
Established in 1998, Plateau Outreach Ministries serves neighbors in Enumclaw, Buckley, Black Diamond and surrounding rural communities, and partners with other agencies to provide referrals and additional resources.
Contributions from the community support the food and clothing bank and Samaritan Services, providing emergency assistance for rent, utilities, fuel and prescriptions, as well as extended case management for long-term support to help people stabilize their situation.
In 2021, the POM food bank recorded 3,744 household visits and distributed 151,557 pounds of food. That support helped 10,600 individuals – 40 percent below the age of 18. Since April, POM has also operated the Enumclaw Food Bank.
Within Samaritan Services, the POM team served 1,177 families, providing more than $300,000 in voucher assistance for rent and utilities.
But behind those numbers are people: a family receiving nutritious food to stay healthy and fed; an elderly widow receiving utility assistance so she can stay warm in the winter; or a young man receiving a new outfit for a job interview.
And the need is growing. “By the end of the third quarter of 2022 we had already equalled where we were for all last year,” Smith-Marshall says.
Neighbors helping neighbors
In addition to food and financial contributions, POM also welcomes donations to its Pennies from Heaven thrift store, whose success more than covers the organization’s administrative costs, so all donations go directly to services benefiting people in need, Smith-Marshall notes.
More than 100 volunteers also make this vital work possible – and more are always welcome!
“We couldn’t do it without them,” she says, commending people for their many contributions. “Our community is just so generous.
“This holiday season, along with getting gifts for those we love, many of us will also take the time to donate or buy gifts for those we do not know in our community, because we know the need is great,” she says. “Much like my interaction with the little girl, there is joy in both giving and receiving. May you also beam with joy as you give and receive the ‘flowers’ of this holiday season.”
To help your Neighbors in Need this holiday season, donate securely here, or look for POM’s donation form in the Enumclaw Courier Herald print edition.
To learn more, visit online at plateauoutreach.org or call