Hank and Judy Konrad, owners of Hank’s Harvest Foods in Twisp, were surprised last week by a delegation from the Washington Food Industry Association bearing balloons and an award for community service for 2015.
“The award recognizes lifetime community service — but, especially, for the past two years during the wildfires, when the store was so very important to the community, citizens, firefighters and law enforcement. They were the heart of bringing the community together and fighting this together,” said Jan Gee, president and CEO of the food association, who came to Twisp to bestow the award.
Hank said the award came as a complete surprise when the group showed up.
“Judy doesn’t get the recognition she should — I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do without her,” said Hank. Judy handles employee benefits and government regulations for the store.
The award also honors a store’s commitment to its employees. Hank’s currently has 58 employees at the store and the nearby mini-market, almost all full-time. Some have been there for 35 or 40 years, according to Hank.
“Last year, three or four employees lost their homes in the fire, and they were all at work the next morning,” he said.
Gee commended Hank for his generosity in lending cash for gas or hotels to people evacuating from the fire, as well as to others in need over the years. Hank said he is usually repaid, although it can be years until people are back on their feet.
The Washington Food Industry Association represents 90 percent of independently owned stores in the state and has 480 members, said Gee.