Honoring Renna Pierce for a lifetime of service
How do you turn a truckload of surplus potatoes into a thriving organization that has placed more than 800 skilled professionals in the 131 nonprofits in the Puget Sound region?
Just ask Renna Pierce, the 2016 recipient of the Janet. G. Newell Award for Community Service, presented by the Companis Board of Directors in recognition of her role organizing and launching Companis 22 years ago.
Renna, now an active 92 years old, recalls that Seattle First Baptist Church was operating a food bank, bagging up surplus potatoes and distributing them to those in need, and running afoul of church neighbors in the process.
“We were a well-intentioned bunch of volunteers who didn’t know how to run a food bank without disturbing the neighborhood,” she says. “We had the idea that it would be better to be a support church for the nonprofits that were out there doing good work, and to help them perform better by supplying skilled professional volunteers.”
As president of the SFBC congregation, Renna recruited and hired founding Companis Executive Craig Darling. She had the vision to realize the kind of work Companis does offers huge benefits to the community because it doesn’t duplicate crucial services already being performed. Now a retired college educator, her community service involvement also includes 6 years on the King County Board of Developmental Disabilities and many other SFBC community outreach activities.
"Renna's example shines forth as she encourages those around her to find ways to share their time and talents," Craig observes. "We are inspired by Renna's powerful service ethic, and grateful for her leadership in helping create an organization that two decades later continues to deliver life-changing services to our neighbors."
Renna reflects on those early years and concludes that it was work well done.
“Companis has served the community very well, and it’s also given people the opportunity to use their skills in a way that is very useful and productive.”
Thank you, Renna!