Reflections from our Volunteers
For this edition of the newsletter, our amazing volunteers look back at the past year and their service at the pantry, because the story of this year can't be told in just one voice.
Winter Edition - December 2020
From Those Waiting on the Sidelines...
Since stepping back, what do you miss most about your time at the pantry?
Mike and Carolina Palacios: The solidarity of working with the pantry team and seeing clients who we would otherwise not see.
Tom and Jeannie Birmingham: The wonderful volunteers in the pantry and also the good people we're trying to help.
Judy Clavelli: Meeting the clients and working with the other volunteers.
Judy Ortiz: The precious sense of being useful and in community.
Elisabeth Kevorkian: Seeing and working with my fellow volunteers and the clients.
Terry Joiner: My Thursday mornings and meeting new partners for bagging beans and rice. The conversations were great and being with humans during the pandemic was therapeutic.
Delia Naranjo: The food pantry was for me the most rewarding time I ever spent: being able to help the families in need, talking to them, laughing with them, bringing cookies for the kids, chatting with my fellow volunteers.
Linda McKee: Helping people by facilitating getting their food. I also enjoyed the camaraderie among all the volunteers. I thought that I was part of something very good and that made me happy.
Ana Mahomar: The people-those working the pantry shift, behind the scenes, walking by, and the people we welcomed and served; I miss listening to unique life journeys and sharing even the smallest moments.
Pat DeFino: Spending time with a great bunch of friends, the interaction with the younger volunteers, and Mary Rein's genuine excitement every time she'd successfully open the giant rice bags with just the pull of the string. But the thing I miss the most is irritating Bernie by shelving boxes upside down!
Nancy Wiltz: The camaraderie, the fun, and genuinely helping others less fortunate by sharing a smile and giving them food, even though I'd work so hard that I'd sweat and would have to see the chiropractor the next day.
Mary Rein: Being a small part of the whole community of resilience and creativity. By this I mean the clients, the leadership, the part-time volunteers of all kinds -- all of us together one community drawn together by need and love.
Carole Hoage: Seeing everyone, of course, and feeling like I’m doing some good in the world. And the clients - love them.
Ed Cook: Seeing the wonderful people who come every week to help others get the food they need. When people would tell me how good we are to do this work, I would answer that we have fun, that it is a pleasure to work with such interesting people.
Eileen Flynn: The camaraderie of my fellow volunteers and serving our clients.
Mirtha Dorado: The people...helping them, and working with the other Pantry volunteers.
Amity Hall: Giving back by working alongside others to fill bins with food and interacting with clients who come in for food.
Now that volunteering at the pantry is no longer practical for you, what are you doing in your spare time/how are you keeping busy?
Elisabeth Kevorkian: There is so much hardship all around us and a way for each of us to help that I have no spare time in need of filling. I have made hundreds of masks, helped with elections, and put donations where my mouth is.
Judy Clavelli: There's always plenty to keep me busy, especially in Christmas season. I try to get to Mass a few times a week, and I do have a couple of other volunteer jobs, plus my part-time job, so there's never a lack of things to do.
Nancy Wiltz: The Prayer Shawl Group at St. Paul's keeps me busy knitting and/or crocheting baby caps for infants and/or making shawls for those who are ill, and St. Paul's hospital/clinic in Honduras is often in need of many and varied things that I contribute to.
Ana Mahomar: Grad school (YAY!)
Delia Naranjo: I am in charge of my little granddaughter for two days, and I try to keep with my favorite pastimes of walking and reading.
Carole Hoage: Ha! What spare time - cooking, eating, taking longer to do everything, and extra volunteering time at Adelphi Friends Meeting.
Eileen Flynn: I am teaching hybrid this year and find it very challenging.
Ed Cook: I spend most of my time now trying to get stronger. I walk with a walker
and someone holding on to an attached belt. I go to Physical Therapy twice a week.
Linda McKee: I spend more time taking to my husband during breakfast. I also go for an early Saturday walks.
Amity Hall: I'm keeping busy with other church activities primarily via Zoom sessions - at Adelphi Quaker Meeting.
From Current Volunteers...
What has changed the most about your pantry job since Covid hit the scene?
Marianne Comfort: We're busier than ever, but being in the basement storage area with just two other people, the biggest change really is feeling more removed from the actual distribution of food.
Nicole Severin: We have to wear a mask now. And we are outdoors (which sometimes can be nice).
Dave Roberts: We've been seeing a lot more clients than ever before.
Sheila Harron: When we stock the bags for the clients we used to have some down times where we chatted, checked our phones, tidied up. Now there is no down time because of the increased number of people needing food.
Joyce Romanus: Being outside!
Jean Guevara: Jumping out from behind the scenes to work the distribution shifts with my fellow volunteers.
Pud Baker: I see less of the friends I have made at the pantry.
Martha Huber: The sheer volume of pantry clients in general and the large numbers of first-time clients coming to us for help.
Tara Romanus: I have done a lot more in every job possible at pantry since Covid hit as I am available more.
Chris Quinones: There are way too many changes to list!
Ralph Quinones: Working outside and the increase in the number of first time clients.
What has been the hardest part about volunteering at the pantry since Covid hit the scene?
Jenny Haliski: Hearing about volunteers testing positive and getting sick. Also, there are more volunteers so it is more likely that there are name duplicates and even though I try not to mix people up when sending out reminders, I'm human.
Marianne Comfort: We don't own a car, so the hardest thing is looking at the weather forecast a few days ahead and hoping it's nice enough to ride my bike so I don't have to take the bus, which can be more crowded than I'm comfortable with at times.
Joyce Romanus: Being outside! There is so much more work because of being outside and because of our increased numbers. I’ve had a harder time staying patient when there are so so many moving parts and lines outside.
Pud Baker: With more people coming, there is a need to have a dedicated volunteer to stock the shelves so the baggers can move swiftly.
Bob Ryan: I would say losing the regular book giveaway.
Jean Guevara: Coordinating the volunteer schedule with so many people needed per shift and the work stations and shift assignments changing month to month and sometimes week to week.
I laugh at myself for thinking the schedules of yesteryear were ever a challenge.
Linda Ramirez: Hearing the same situation of bread winner's lost employment from clients, followed by someone close catching the virus.
Tara Romanus: Making sure everything is in place and volunteers are on time to help get things set up.
Chris Quinones: Really there are three things:
- the tremendous increase in the number of clients served
- transitioning our operation from downstairs to the parking lot
- trying to stay safe
Ralph Quinones: Trying to keep my glasses from fogging up while wearing my mask and also trying to keep the clients 6 feet apart.
What is the best part about volunteering at the pantry during these Covid times?
Martha Huber: Having my glasses fog up because of my mask. And I really miss seeing people's smiles.
Bob Ryan: An opportunity to work as a team doing needed service.
Jenny Haliski: Reading about the amazing collaboration that helps us still serve clients who need food more than ever. I'm really proud to be a part of making that happen behind the scenes.
Nicole Severin: I know I'm there to help people. And it's a blessing for the people who truly appreciate the help.
Joyce Romanus: Being outside!
Tara Romanus: Helping our community when they are all in need. Bringing a smile to people’s faces. Spending time with my mom.
Linda Ramirez: Seeing our once small basement operation adapt to the times and grow bigger outside to accommodate all seasons :) Meeting new volunteers.
Marianne Comfort: Cycling up the driveway toward the friary and greeting all the people who arrived early to get in line for food and knowing I'm a small part of this amazing operation meeting a huge need in our community.
Sheila Harron: The opportunity to do something concrete to help some of the huge number of people suffering from the economic fall-out. It is an outlet for the sense of being overwhelmed and helpless.
Jean Guevara: Being at the pantry and a part of the action when all the many moving parts are in harmony - it is incredibly energizing.
Pud Baker: A chance to be around other people - who are also using masks and being safe.
Vicki Bell: Volunteering at the Pantry lets me experience life outside my daily bubble. There’s much gladness and community to see there.
Martha Huber: Still seeing people's gratitude through their smiling eyes.
Chris Quinones: Seeing all the new volunteers (especially the young ones) who have come to help our brothers and sisters who need assistance during this difficult time.
Ralph Quinones: Seeing the young people step up to the plate to volunteer where they are most needed.
From New Volunteers...
What has proved to be the biggest challenge about volunteering at the pantry?
Stephanie Chapman: Wanting to do more but not having the bandwidth to do so. I wish I could be there all three days to help. But it really helps that so many people are involved and are such team players you can be confident everyone is managing.
Anne Dievler: Remembering everyone’s name!
Felix Barbieri: Knowing that we aren't fixing the root issues here.
Danny Velado: Being able to translate to many of our brothers and sisters where English is not their first language. For me, it’s been both a challenge as well as a blessing at the same time. It’s a challenge because I can never tell when to use the Spanish or English language when someone comes up to me. It’s a blessing because I begin to comprehend what they’re saying and this gives me an opportunity to practice my Spanish more.
Sue Gander: Not being able to show my smile through my mask. I have one with a smile I’ve added with a Sharpie and hopefully my own smile shows through.
Sr Thomas: I can't think of anything!
Laura Jacobi: Working in frequently-changing, sometimes confusing, sometimes cramped conditions.
Scott Sumter: Being surrounded by and part of a superbly-directed and dedicated group of loving individuals that are living their empathies with helping hands and good works has presented no "big" challenge to my volunteering.
Christine Ruppert: The weather. The masks were hot in the summer, and your fingers get a bit cold in the winter.
Sr Parker: I can't think of anything except maybe a language barrier that really just makes it even more fun.
What has been the nicest surprise/what do you like best about volunteering at the pantry?
Karen Lanni: What a well run MAJOR operation the pantry is. All the moving parts come together so well.
Danny Velado: We get to play music without any judgement from anyone.
Stephanie Chapman: How friendly everyone is! From the staff to the clients, everyone has a smile on their face and just seems happy to be there despite the less than optimal circumstances that bring some people to the distribution. It really makes it easy to do the work, and the time flies by.
Laura Jacobi: Everyone doing his/her best to accomplish something really useful despite the conditions.
Sr Thomas: The people. Since starting at the pantry, I have felt nothing but love from everyone there. Both from the volunteers and the people we serve.
Felix Barbieri: The ability to get out of the house every Friday.
Bro Mike McCarthy: The opportunity to interact with the other members of our efficient and fun team and the 250 or so clients who visit our church each week to get their food supplement.
Tom Miller: Doing something good for somebody else, and I like helping people. I also like talking with people, and the other helpers there are really good.
Christine Ruppert: Connecting with other volunteers and the pantry recipients. I feel in real community.
Scott Sumter: Being a part of fulfilling a real human, basic need with others of like mind and heart to those of our community who have reached out and privileged me with their trust to provide them with sustenance and brotherly support during these extraordinary times.
Sue Gander: Being around a group of dedicated volunteers that are all there to help make a positive difference. Their energy is really powerful.
Sr Parker: The happiness and kindness of those we serve and those we serve with! I have never met more kind and dedicated people in my life!
Anne Dievler: I feel such joy and peace when I am working there, alongside committed, friendly people, realizing we are helping others. And I love standing in the prayer circle before we begin on Friday afternoons, acknowledging God’s presence among us all – volunteers and clients.
Continuing to Serve
The sharp increase in clients in the month of October is due to 5 weekends of distribution.