February 14, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 43

Creating a sense of community is Kibling’s passion

One of the most well-known faces in Medical Lake, Bob Kibling is the Kiwanis Senior Citizen Volunteer of the Year for 2012.

James Eik
Bob Kibling received a clock as part of being awarded the Kiwanis Senior Citizen Volunteer of the Year.

Kibling received the award at the 29th annual Senior Citizens Valentine’s Day dinner, Saturday, Feb. 9 at the St. Anne’s Parish Hall, hosted by the Medical Lake Kiwanis.

For a number of years, Kibling has been involved with the Medical Lake Food Bank board of directors, continuing to steer the organization toward success. Like many other volunteers, it started with humble beginnings, commenting at a City Council meeting regarding some apartments.

“I always donated to the thrift store here,” Kibling said.

Another longtime Medical Lake resident, Joyce Calloway, asked him to submit his resume to get on the food bank board, and the rest, as they say, is history. He is now the president of the board of directors and was the lead organizer for the last two Founder’s Day events.

In addition to that, he is a longtime member of the Washington State Retired Public Employees organization, of which he is now president.

A resident of the city when his children attended Medical Lake High School, Kibling was actively involved in his family’s events throughout the year.

“We got involved when they were here,” he said. “From there, it just kind of snowballed.”

In the last year, the food bank moved to a new location, resulting from years of work, planning and saving up whatever funds were available. As a result, the food bank now has nearly twice the space it once did in the Dora Burt Center, where the Care and Share thrift store remains. The store received a heavy renovation during the latter part of last year, and has now expanded into the rest of the building.

Kibling was nominated for the award by several of his peers in the city.

“No one is busier than Bob, having organized two of the best Founder’s Days in Medical Lake, as well as being president of the Medical Lake Food Bank,” Betty Labish said in her nomination.

Anne Starr, director of the Care and Share, said, “It is long past due Bob be publically recognized and honored for his years of volunteer service to Medical Lake.”

While Kibling and a group of stalwart city residents have kept the community’s service torch alight over the past several years, the number of those involved at the local level has taken something of a decline.

“It’s got to be the younger generation to step forward, to take over and say ‘It’s my turn to do stuff,’” Kibling said.

That sort of work takes time out of life at home, after work, in between fixing up the house and spending time with family. For some, volunteering is practically a second full-time job. Kibling went to communities in the Spokane region, like Reardan, participating in their parades, getting Medical Lake’s name out there. All of those hours add up over the course of a year.

But, when others pitch in, the burden becomes lessened, or eliminated. That’s what happened with Founder’s Day for Kibling, who said he had a handful of dedicated people providing selfless help in the time leading up to Medical Lake’s biggest weekend.

“I had the best group of volunteers,” he said.

Although some help has returned from last year, Founder’s Day has yet to see someone step up to the plate in the lead role.

“It takes somebody who realizes this is a good community,” Kibling said.

Kibling’s message is one of strength through unity. Knowing neighbors, the neighborhood, becoming involved and providing support systems are all part of the foundation cities in the West Plains.

“These communities have to work together,” he said. “Not one of us is large enough to go out and be on our own.”

James Eik can be reached at james@cheneyfreepress.com.

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