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Donation of new van will help FISH Food Bank better serve its clients

Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH Food Bank director Ron Coen, left, holds up the keys to the new 2017 Ford Transport van donated by Peninsula Subaru owner John Dionas, fourth from left, during a ceremony Friday at the nonprofit’s headquarters in Gig Harbor. Dionas was joined by his family and staff members from the dealership.
Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH Food Bank director Ron Coen, left, holds up the keys to the new 2017 Ford Transport van donated by Peninsula Subaru owner John Dionas, fourth from left, during a ceremony Friday at the nonprofit’s headquarters in Gig Harbor. Dionas was joined by his family and staff members from the dealership. tyler.hemstreet@gateline.com

Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH Food Bank volunteers are well accustomed to using their personal vehicles to transport clients to medical appointments or transport or pick up food donations around town.

They likely won’t have to do much more of that from now on.

That’s because food bank board members and volunteers were presented with a 2017 Ford Transit van donated from Peninsula Subaru and owner John Dionas during an afternoon ceremony Friday at the nonprofit’s headquarters off Burnham Drive.

The van also came packed with food donations, which Dionas, his family and some dealership staff members helped unload into waiting carts.

“Our client base continues to grow,” director Ron Coen, who runs the food bank with his wife, Jan, said. “In the last 20 years, our usage has doubled.”

In fact, the month of November was the food bank’s busiest on record when it comes to client visits, he said.

The new van will help with the transport of clients from nine different zip codes the nonprofit serves to area medical appointments and larger-scale pickups and drop-offs of food.

Run by a collection of 200 volunteers, Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH celebrated its 40th anniversary last year.

“Our overhead is very low,” Coen said. “Our goal isn’t just to feed people, but to help make them self sufficient.”

Dionas, who got to know Coen through a donation event he helped coordinate while serving as a member of the board of the Washington State Auto Dealers Association, knew that the food bank could always use continued support.

“I asked Ron, ‘What’s your biggest need?’” said Dionas, a Horsehead Bay resident.

The transport issue was immediately identified, and Dionas got to work finding a vehicle that would suite the organization’s needs. Once the van was purchased, Dionas worked with Silverdale-based Hanson Signs to put the food bank’s logo on the doors to increase exposure in the community.

“I feel so fortunate to be able to do this,” said Dionas, who has also donated vehicles in the past to the Boys & Girls Club in Gig Harbor and the Children’s Home Society on the Key Peninsula.

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