Tricia Harrop set to retire from YCAP
Harrop recalled seeing an advertisement running week after week in the News-Register. She finally decided to call Doug Bartlett, executive director at the time, and see what he envisioned for the position.
During the interview process, she recalled Mary Stern, who was chairing the board at the time, talking about the capital campaign that eventually led to construction of the current facility.
“Nobody told me about learning to drive truck,” Harrop said. “Nobody told me about learning to drive a fork lift.”
She said, “I thought, I can organize things.” But she said the position turned out to require much more, including the operation of pallet jacks, unloading of tons of food and supervision of county jail inmates.
In the time that Harrop has served in the position, she’s seen the community’s needs change dramatically.
When she was initially on the job, Harrop said, “The issues of hunger were simpler.” She recalled it mainly hitting the endemic poor, often mired in generations of poverty.
“And then we had the Great Recession,” Harrop said. “We saw significant change in the population. We quickly began to see people who had never been in the system before and didn’t know how to navigate the system.”
She recalls mothers calling and saying they had just sent their children to school with no food and wives calling without their husband’s knowledge because they needed help, but wouldn’t admit it.
For Harrop, the issue wasn’t about pride, but about keeping families together.
“There was so much coaching we were doing,” she said. “People were embarrassed and nervous.”
It was up to the food bank staff to help people who really didn’t want to be in the system learn how to navigate it.
Providers had to be educated, too, Harrop said. There were people like contractors and others who didn’t qualify for unemployment benefits but had no work. It was important to explain to providers that they might see someone drive up in a very nice pickup and qualify for benefits.
“That might be the vehicle the family is living in,” Harrop said.
“At the same time, we saw a very, very generous and caring community,” she said. “Those who are able in our community care very much. I think Yamhill County is unique in that way.”
Through the Oregon Food Bank and other networks, there were outreach efforts made and resources shared with YCAP and others. One example was the McMinnville Downtown Farmers Market letting the food bank glean from them. There were also little places that would hold food drives and collect 10 to 100 pounds, which collectively, made a big difference.
Legislative action led to the hiring of Neal Nyssen as resource development coordinator for YCAP.
That helped increase collections many fold, Harrop said. The donations come not only in the form of canned food from community members, but individual gardens and farmers donating extra food as well, work she cites Nyssen for completing.
“It increases the diversity of the food and the nutritional value,” Harrop said. “We’ve made a real effort to focus on nutrition.”
As far as future plans, Harrop will be spending more time with her family, including her husband, Kent, and daughters, Lindsay, a college graduate and Katelyn, a sophomore majoring in journalism at Ithaca College in New York who is home for the summer and serving a paid internship in Portland.
Both daughters were raised in the McMinnville community, something that Harrop feels was very fortunate.
She and Kent enjoy camping and plan to take advantage of the nice weather. She also will continue her community service with the McMinnville Noon Kiwanis, where she is chairing the Bids for Kids Auction committee and preparing to assume the presidency.
Holder of a master’s in health care administration, she also plans to use some of that knowledge helping at the McMinnville Free Clinic. “It’s the perfect time for me to spend time doing what I want to do,” she said.