The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

December 24, 2013

Helping feed the needy ...

ENID, Okla. — Gail Wynne is humble about her work to help feed the needy.

As a volunteer with Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, and as a board member on its foundation for 10 years, she’s been called the driving force behind Loaves and Fishes — a nonprofit in Enid funded by the RFB.

“It’s always nice to be recognized. But nobody comes to this by themselves. There’s always a big group of people that should be recognized along with an individual, I think,” she said.

Wynne is one of four people nominated for Pillar of the Plains. Other finalists are Mary Laster-Porter, Ken Corbin and Dr. Barbara Whinery.

The Enid News & Eagle, along with community partners, created the Pillar of the Plains award to honor local people who have been active in the community. These individuals have taken on tasks and projects to better the quality of life in our community. The Pillar of the Plains reception is 5:30-7 p.m. Jan. 9 at Convention Hall.

One of Wynne’s colleagues at the food bank is its executive director. Rodney Bivens said he wasn’t surprised to hear Wynne was nominated.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” he said. “I find Gail as being a very humble and unpretentious person. If you ask her if she wanted it, she’d probably say no. If someone asked her if they could nominate her, she’d probably say no.”

Wynne also is a “servant leader.”

“She has an extraordinary gift for leadership and bringing other people together around a common issue, and finding solutions,” Bivens said.

At Loaves and Fishes, a food resource center that served as a pilot program for RFB to study how they could provide service in areas outside the Oklahoma City metro, Wynne praises a core group of people who helped put it together.

“And I think we’re getting close to 100 volunteers who make that work, day in and day out. They should be recognized as well. It’s been an amazing feat in a short amount of time,” she said.

Wynne serves as chairwoman of the board of directors at Loaves and Fishes.

She’s has been at the tip of the spear with the food bank’s pilot programs — both with Loaves and Fishes and also with the Enid Food 4 Kids backpack program. Regional Food Bank now has four operating food resource centers across the state and is in the final stages of planning six more. Two are being remodeled.

The backpack program is in all of the food bank’s 53 counties and serves 477 elementary schools.

“I don’t think today the food resource center in Enid would have happened without Gail’s guidance and leadership. And I don’t think the backpack program would be here it is today without Gail’s leadership in helping us develop the model,” said Bivens.

Wynne thanked husband John and son Elliott for their support over the years. She also admits she owes a lot to her parents, former Oklahoma Gov. Henry Bellmon and his wife Shirley.

“I kind of think I hit the jackpot when it came to parents,” she said. “My parents set a good example for public service, and you just have a heart for it. It’s the right thing to do.”

Previous Pillar of the Plains were Bert Mackie, Lee Thompson, Janet Cordell, Dr. Charles Ogle, Lew Ward, Becky Cummings, Dr. Jerry Blankenship, April Danahy, Doug Frantz and Martie Oyler.

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