Drive to shelter F.I.S.H. clients

'Old angel' leads project to fund, get permits for awning

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

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You can help

Want to help F.I.S.H. of Orchards get an outside shelter? Call 360-256-2440.

photoVolunteer Cristina Rouse packs and weighs food Dec. 11, 2012 in Vancouver. Rouse was laid off from her job two years ago and volunteers Tuesdays and Thursdays at F.I.S.H of Orchards. F.I.S.H. leaders are trying to do better at marketing themselves and getting "new blood" to volunteer. (Troy Wayrynen/The Columbian)

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A Vancouver man is determined to install an outside shelter at a local emergency food bank so clients don't have to wait outside in the rain.

When Dennis Clark read The Columbian's story on F.I.S.H. of Orchards two weeks ago, he knew he had to help out the struggling food bank; the organization, located at 6008 N.E. 110th Ave., can allow only five clients inside the building at a time due to a fire ordinance. Sometimes the line of people waiting outside for their turn to get groceries stretches around the parking lot and out to the street.

Hours after reading the story, he met with a group of friends at Brewed Awakenings on Northeast 63rd Street. He calls this group the "old angels" because they all volunteer their time for various causes. At 65, Clark is the youngest angel.

A retractable awning that attaches to the roof is the most viable option for the food bank's small site, Clark said. He wants to install a wind gauge that would automatically retract the awning when wind speeds reached 25 mph or higher.

So far, his friends and family have donated $1,000 to go toward the structure and any associated fees; he plans to match whatever amount people give him with his own money.

Jim Muir, chief building official for the Clark County Planning Commission, said F.I.S.H. of Orchards would not need a permit for a retractable awning. If it wanted to build a permanent 10-foot by 10-foot addition on the south side of the building, similar to a carport or drive-thru roof, that would cost $917.95 in permit fees.

However, a land-use planner would have to check that any added structure wouldn't affect the amount of available parking. A meeting with the food bank's president and the planning commission to discuss any land-use issues was postponed Monday.

Clark says he'll see the project through no matter the cost or land use conflicts.

"We're not talking the Empire State Building here," he said. "One way or another, they're going to get the dang thing."


Patty Hastings: 360-735-4513; twitter.com/col_cops; patty.hastings@columbian.com.