John Rieping/The Madera Tribune
Food bank executive director Ryan McWherter presents a Volunteer of the Year Award to Betty Stark at the 5th annual Madera County Food Bank dinner Thursday.
Madera County Food Bank has named 82-year-old Betty Stark as its Volunteer of the Year and Camarena Health as its Partner of the Year.
“She’s just a shining light to all those that she encounters. She just always has a smile, always has joy on her face. And she calls me Bryan,” said Ryan McWherter, food bank executive director. “Yeah, she has literally called me Bryan for six years. Now this is how much I love her: I have never ever tried to fix that. It’s all good. She can call me Bryan all she wants.”
More than 300 diners helped Madera County Food Bank raise about $37,000 at its 5th annual dinner Thursday at the Madera District Fairgrounds. Catered by Madera Community Hospital, the banquet featured a silent, dessert and live auction inside Hatfield Hall.
“I used to work down the street where they did distributions,” said auctioneer Tim Sisil. “If you don’t get an opportunity to see that process, I can tell you it’s labor intensive … There’s a lot of needy people in the county that we live in … Great people who are not as blessed as we are.”
Madera Mayor Andy Medellin offered a 21-minute keynote address that told of new fire station plans, an addition to the city’s newest industrial park, local nostalgia, and a Christian reflection on seeing and helping Christ in those we meet in distress. He concluded by telling of a student he met at a school on Madera’s east side.
“After the speech, a kid walked up to me and looked me dead in the eye and he said, ‘I’m going to be the mayor one day.’ … I’ve never forgotten that kid and I will never forget that kid, because he was so full of confidence and so proud of who he was … You just saw him oozing with this light. You knew that this kid was gonna be somebody.”
Medellin said the “young man” was defined by his actions, not his circumstances. “And so we have some people at the Food Bank who need your help,” he finished. “But those are not their circumstances by which they’re defined.”
Pastor Roger Leach, of Valley West Christian Center, offered the dinner’s opening invocation, and Pastor Lance Leach, also of Valley West Christian Center, was the master of ceremonies. The banquet’s biggest sponsors were public health plan CalViva Health and discount retailer Walmart. This year’s fundraiser earned nearly as much as last year’s, McWherter said.
Madera County Food Bank has worked to meet county food needs since 1999. For its emergency food line, call 674-2992. For its office, call 674-1482.