Sue Van Son, executive director of Interfaith Food Ministry, to step down this year | TheUnion.com

Sue Van Son, executive director of Interfaith Food Ministry, to step down this year

Sue Van Son started at Interfaith Food Ministry in the back room, filling grocery bags for needy families based on lists they'd supply.

Three years later she found herself the president of the Grass Valley organization, and about four years after that its executive director and first paid part-time employee.

Now, after over a decade with the food ministry, Van Son is retiring. She hopes the food bank will have a new executive director installed by April 1. She'd spend a month with the new hire before stepping aside.

"Someone new will come and they'll be able to do things I can't do," Van Son said, who plans to spend more time with family.

“... the one thing we agree on is no one should be hungry. While it’s a challenge, it’s been one of the greatest blessings.”

— Sue Van Son

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The outgoing director has accomplished much herself. She led the food ministry through a national recession and an increase in the number of people using the service each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. She became executive director after the organization realized it needed a larger space and required relocation.

Van Son also coordinated the work of some 450 volunteers, helping them adapt to new and changing programs.

"The positives far outweigh the negatives," she said.

The volunteers who contribute to the food ministry have different faiths and likely would disagree on many topics, Van Son said.

"But the one thing we agree on is no one should be hungry," she added. "While it's a challenge, it's been one of the greatest blessings."

Bob Thurman, president of Interfaith's board, praised Van Son's work with the organization.

"We never had an employee before, part time or otherwise," he said. "She's done a phenomenal job, absolutely phenomenal."

Thurman first met Van Son at a fundraiser for Interfaith Food Ministry. She convinced him to start volunteering for her organization and after becoming board president he played a role in hiring her as the organization's first paid employee.

"She's got a way of really drawing people in and drawing out your compassion," he said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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