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A new era for YWCA Olympia and a new home for The Other Bank

They say that “one cannot live by bread alone”—and so it is, that along with food, there are some other material necessities. For the past 34 years, people in our community were able to find a whole range of necessities —personal hygiene and household cleaning products—that weren’t available at the Food Bank by going to The Other Bank.

That changed last summer

YWCA Olympia operated The Other Bank at its home on Union Avenue for 34 years. Last summer, YWCA announced a transition of the service to the Thurston  County Food Bank (TCFB, Food Bank), allowing members of the community to meet more of their needs in one place.

Essential items, extensive reach

Over the years, the YWCA distributed free full-sized personal hygiene and household cleaning products to more than 13,000 low-income individuals annually. Available items included soap, toilet paper, menstrual products, shampoo, deodorant, laundry detergent, dish soap, toothpaste, diapers and more.

YWCA also provided a telephone order service for homebound individuals and seniors who couldn’t get to the Other Bank during regular distribution hours. Other partners included the Thurston County Food Bank FORKids backpack program and countless social service agencies in Thurston County for whom the YWCA provided hygiene kits.

Transitioning and revisioning

“It has been an honor for YWCA Olympia to support our community through The Other Bank. It’s a legacy we are proud of,” said YWCA CEO Hillary Detamore. “While change is not always easy, this is a tremendous opportunity for YWCA Olympia. This change will enable us to expand our commitment to community, participant-led advocacy and leadership, and education. Our focus will continue to be working to dismantle racism, sexism and other forms of oppression.”

Following its last day operating The Other Bank, the YWCA hosted a huge farewell party catered by Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel – and embarked on a total revisioning of the space that had been occupied by The Other Bank.

YWCA says goodbye to years of hosting The Other Bank at its home on Union Avenue

A new direction for 2020

The YWCA has been working to align its programs and organizational culture with a focus on the intersections of race, gender and poverty. They are also striving to center Black and Indigenous Womxn and Womxn of Color in this work. The revisioning project involves thinking about inclusive ways to serve people of all genders who are impacted by racism or sexism.

As YWCA Olympia moves to become a center for community, participant-led advocacy and education, it has much to share. Their commitment is to work with the community to eliminate racism and sexism, empower womxn, strengthen communities and work for justice, freedom and dignity for all. To collectively embody our full humanity, everyone must be valued and live free from oppression. This is the work of YWCA Olympia and the work of our entire community.

The Other Bank at the Food Bank

The Thurston County Food Bank kicked off Other Bank services with a soft opening in July 2019, offering hygiene items on a special service day (“Baby Day,” for families with children age 5 and under). This was an opportunity to experiment with distribution setup and to observe how long supplies lasted on a service day with fewer families and shorter lines.

The Other Bank settles into its new home

During the soft opening, a student intern surveyed clients to find out which items they need most and to solicit feedback about the program’s new home. One client said that “Being able to get food and toiletries in one place makes taking care of my family much less stressful.”

After two months, TCFB began offering the Other Bank on second Wednesdays with both daytime and evening hours. TCFB continues to offer Other Bank services on Baby Day and Senior Day, with a streamlined selection of items geared toward babies, small children, or the elderly.

Off to a good start

TCFB now provides Other Bank services to over 300 households per month. A mother of three shared, “I work during the day, but some months, it’s still tough to cover the cost of all the things we need for our home. I’m glad there are nighttime hours.”

Molly P., who has volunteered at the Food Bank for four years and helped launch the Other Bank at TCFB said, “The clients are really grateful. They are happy to choose from the items available. Many people told me that if they already have a particular item at home, they’d rather leave it for another person who needs it more.”

Planning to expand and scale up

According to Robert Coit, Food Bank Executive Director, “Most food banks in the state offer personal hygiene products complementing traditional food distribution. It is our intent to honor the long history of The Other Bank, using the same basic structure. We intend to expand this service throughout our network but also to scale the program up as new resources become available.”

Access the Other Bank

Other Bank services are available at TCFB Client Services Center, 220 Thurston Ave NE, Olympia, WA, 98501 each month as follows:

First Tuesday, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. Seniors age 60 and over, and anyone with proof of disability (select hygiene items available; needs of elderly clients emphasized)

Second Wednesday, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm -7:00 pm.

Third Tuesday, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. Families with children age 5 and under (select hygiene items available; needs of babies and small children emphasized)

Donate Other Bank items in high demand (best if full size, unopened, unscented)

  • Laundry detergent
  • Dish soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Toilet paper
  • Deodorant
  • Menstrual pads with wings
  • Tampons
  • Razors
  • Diapers size 3-6, pull-ups up to 3T

Drop off donations Monday—Friday, 8:00 am—4:30 pm

TCFB Client Services Center
220 Thurston Ave NE
Olympia, WA 98501

TCFB Warehouse & Distribution Center
2260 Mottman Rd SW
Tumwater, WA 98512

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