"After 15 years, Kenlon calls it a career"

"For 15 years, helping the less fortunate in Central Kitsap has been a way of life for Gloria Kenlon.Kenlon, the executive director at the Central Kitsap Food Bank, is calling it quits with the turn of the new millennium. Tentatively, her last day will be Dec. 31.“My decision to leave was due to the fact that I have a husband and each year we’re not getting any younger,” Kenlon said. “I think it’s time for someone with new ideas, who can get it done better than it has been done.”In 1983, Kenlon had a tracheotomy due to advanced rheumatoid arthritis that has destroyed many of her joints, causing mild deformities in her hands. She said after her operation, she knew helping others was her calling. “I had to do something,” Kenlon said. “To know you have such a handicap. By helping other people, it takes your problems away.” Kenlon became involved as a member of the Silverdale Methodist Church, which housed the food bank for many years. “I feel I can do anything as good as everyone else can,” Kenlon said. Kenlon said she remembers a time when she was trying to open a jar and because of her wrist deformities the task became tougher than she thought. Someone asked her if she needed help and she said, “No, I can do it.”“You learn to do just about anything,” Kenlon said. “You just have to.”In 1992, the food bank moved from the church to its current Anderson Hill Road location. The facility is open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday.“She is a remarkable woman who has never let her health conditions stop her from anything,” said Nancy Allen, a former member of the food bank board of directors. “She has taken a fledgling food bank and turned it into one of the largest food banks in the area.”Kenlon said she will remain involved in a number of community groups after she retires from the food bank. Currently, she is the president of the Retired Officers Wives Club in Kitsap County, a coordinator for poll workers in Central Kitsap and a past president of the Kitsap County Democratic Womens Club.“You just never think about the things that you do. You just do it,” Kenlon said. Kenlon said her husband and she are planning to travel in the next few years. They have scheduled trips to Europe, Central America and a motor home escapade to Alaska in the summer.“With working, you can’t do those things,” Kenlon said.Kenlon’s executive director position is currently being advertised in newspapers, but some of her volunteers are skeptical. Kenlon advertised her position one other time.Kenlon said this time is for real. “The reason I withdrew (the last time was because) I had at least one big project I wanted to see get done before I left,” Kenlon said.The project was the purchase of a walk-in freezer, made possible by funds provided through ticket sales from the KitsaParty.Another of Kenlon’s big projects, she said, was the purchase of two MacIntosh computers. Kenlon says now the food bank will be able to cut down on a lot of the paperwork by inputting information into the computer.Kenlon said she hopes the new executive director will be active in the community and do more than she was able. “This is important that whoever takes over as new director has to get out and meet new clients and get to know where they come from,” Kenlon said. Kenlon said she hopes the food bank is making a difference.“I think that, hopefully, people in the community think we are doing the best that we could possibly do,” said Kenlon."

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