Core Volunteer Moving On After Seven Years

Core Volunteer Moving On After Seven Years

thank-you-540x358Monday shoppers may find themselves searching for a familiar face in the coming weeks. After seven years, Robyn Hawk, one of the earliest supporters of the co-op and a regular volunteer at the cash register, is moving on. Co-op customers will miss her ready laugh and sense of fun, one she has shared with many other long-term volunteers.

Nothing in particular has triggered her departure, she says. “It wasn’t at all premeditated. I love working at the co-op. But one afternoon, it just jumped into my head.  It was so clear to me that it was time to move on.”  That doesn’t mean abandoning all ties, she says, and she doesn’t rule out volunteering ‘here and there’ in the future. Her regular volunteer days are done, however.

Robyn is grateful for her time at the store. “It was a growing period for me,” she says. “The gratitude from the people I worked with, just for having me there was empowering. I’d like to say ‘thank you’ for the many years there and the gratification of being part of it.”

Although she’ll no longer be a regular volunteer, she plans to continue participating in other ways.  “I support the Co-op wholeheartedly,” she says. “I continue to support it with buying.”

In the meantime, she’s seen hopeful signs that a new generation of volunteers is starting to step forward.  “There’s a whole new group of people coming in and I don’t even know half of them,” she says. “That’s great! Change is good.”

Thank you Robyn for all of your effort, humor, energy, love and attention toward the seedling that was and is the Yelm Co-op. It made a difference!

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Manager Jutta Dewell: Make the Co-op Your Meeting Spot

Manager Jutta Dewell: Make the Co-op Your Meeting Spot

co-op funWalk into the co-op on most days and you’ll inevitably run into Manager Jutta Dewell – inevitably, because Jutta has been pivotal to the life of the store. You might think that she was born knowing about gluten and GMOs, started volunteering for great causes in pre-school, and has always embraced the world of retail. You’d be wrong.

“In Germany, I worked for a car rental company and oversaw many, many BMWs,” she says. “Before I came here I’d never worked in retail and didn’t even know what a co-op was. I used to go to the one in Olympia and think, ‘Oh my God, it’s so expensive.” But when the idea for the Yelm Co-op was conceived nearly a decade ago, she became a member of the steering committee and was part of the team that led to the opening of the store. She continued to volunteer, at one point becoming a board member, and today, she’s one of three managers.

“I’ve never been a volunteer in my life before coming here,” she says, “ but I had the time to do it, and they needed help.” Years of volunteering and contributing in any way she could eventually led to her current position. “I was part of creating my own job,” she explains. “I was happy to do that. This is different than just working for a company.”

The experience has given her a special appreciation for those who donate their time today.  “I am impressed with how many people contribute. That is something I’ve never experienced before. Without working members and volunteers, we could not make it,” she contends. “We can’t pay everybody, unfortunately, and it’s amazing.  We have some volunteers who come every week, several times.”
To Jutta, ambience is a critical component. “The atmosphere has to be nice,” she says, “for the volunteers and also for the customers.  You want to come here. That’s what I always think. Just enjoy the atmosphere or learn something, or meet someone that you know and can talk to – that’s part of it all.”

Over the years, she’s been continually inspired by the idea of a sovereign community. “The co-op is part of that,” she says. “No corporation owns us. Our goal is to have more and more local people sell their products here. We also educate people about what it really means for the economy when you buy locally. More people are waking up to the fact that the food they eat is not the best. They are coming to the store and they want to know. That’s where I see the co-op is so important.”

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Social Media Help

Yelm Food Co-op

2013 is going to be the Year of the Yelm Food Co-op and we’re looking for some help in promoting and marketing the store.

If you are versed in things like social media promotions (Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg, etc), or writing on subjects like food awareness, organic food, and so on, we could use your help.

This would all be volunteer help to start, but if you end up putting more than 6 hours a month into this, you could qualify for our Working Member status and get discounts and other benefits.

If you’re interested, drop an email to Tom at and let us know what you’d like to do.


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This is YOUR Blog – Be a Part of It!

We’ve gotten some feedback recently on the blog that we wanted to answer so that everyone understands its purpose.

Since the early days of the Co-op, it has been a challenge to reach our members with information we thought they should have. We tried emails, we tried flyers in the store, we tried phone calls, we tried the old static website, we tried word-of-mouth, and now we are trying this blog-format website.

Blogs are like online diaries or bulletin boards. One of the advantages to a blog is that the staff can put information up whenever we have time, and you can check it whenever you have time. We don’t have to be doing it at the same time like with a phone call or face-to-face talk.

Another big advantage of the blog over emails, for instance, is that you can make comments directly on the blog (no need to go write an email) and those comments are public so they will generate other comments. The Board and the staff and the administrators of the blog can respond and a real dialogue can begin.

This allows us 2-way communication, sort of like if a group of us were standing together talking. This type of communication is really critical for us, especially now as we move into the expansion mode. We will need all sorts of talent for this project and we know that our membership is full of great talent and people of a wide range of abilities.

The Co-op is member-owned and it should involve as many members as possible. You don’t have to run the cash register to be a volunteer. There are SO many things that need to be done and so many things we’d like to be able to do that there is room for everyone.

You can participate in this – it is not a one-way street! Write comments to the blog posts, or write an opinion on something or a suggestion or tell us about something that is interesting to the members, like a news article you found on organic food or whatever. Include links to articles or even videos and we’ll put it up and give you credit.

This is your Co-op – let your voice be heard!


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