At a time when many food banks and food pantries in the DC area, as well as the rest of the country, are struggling for volunteers, we are SO blessed to have the full roster of awesome volunteers that we do. Our supporters help in a variety of ways, from stocking the pantry to staffing the pantry, from behind the scenes work to being the first faces our clients see. We consider ourselves so very fortunate to have so many members in our food pantry family!
2021-2022 Winter Edition
Our New Home
After 20 months outside in the crazy combination of sweltering DC summers, freezing cold winters, soggy rainy days, and, admittedly, a whole lot of lovely days, the food pantry's operation moved back indoors last fall. We are not the small 9-person crew we were the last time we were indoors. Our large and continually growing family has moved into a space over on the other side of the church property, vacated by the Knights of Columbus. We are grateful to them for being willing to move to a smaller space, so that we could move back indoors.
So many awesome volunteers worked many long hours, selflessly giving MORE of their time than usual to help make this happen. Rose, a structural engineer by trade, consulted with us on the move, advising us on how much weight the floor can support and the placement of our shelving. She even ventured into the crawl space to survey the underside of the floor for us.
Our incredible friends from St Francis Builds sent a crew over to repaint our new space for us (even the hallway and bathroom), helping to make it feel like home.
And an amazing group of pantry volunteers sacrificed evenings and weekends for brainstorming, visualizing, and strategizing, not to mention lifting, hauling, heaving, packing, hands-and-knees scrubbing, unpacking, organizing, building, rebuilding, etc etc. When winter rolled around, we were glad to have our operation largely indoors again. Kudos to those volunteers who manage the lines of clients waiting to come in and those who help carry clients' food to their cars, as they continue to brave the elements.
Our new address is 1500 St Camillus Drive, but if you're coming to the pantry and using a GPS, use the church address of 1600 St Camillus Drive for the most direct route.
Everyone’s good friend Dave, whose service with the pantry dates back to the early months of 2012, and his daughter Ivy, who joined the pantry family early on in the pandemic, have retired from Saturday morning pantry duty. They were both among the first to arrive bright and early nearly every Saturday during these last two years. Their dedication was immeasurable and their bagging skills were tops! Ivy wore many hats at the pantry but spent most of her time between filling bags and distributing food to clients. Dave was a pillar in the basement bagging room, the trailers, and more recently among the new pantry’s can-filled shelves. Dave will still be spotted on an occasional Thursday morning helping bag rice and beans, but they will surely be missed by their Saturday pals.
Gift-giving any time of year
We are trying something new to continue support for the pantry. In 2021, we distributed over 18,000 emergency food packages to the community, and with rising costs for food, we are witnessing a surge in need once again. When gift-giving occasion arise, if you would like to give a donation to the Pantry as an alternative gift, please visit our GoFundMe page to make the donation, then send an email to StCamillusFoodPantry@gmail.com, letting us know that you are providing funds to the pantry through Go Fund Me. We will ask the name and email address of the gift recipient and will send an email to them (copying you) with an acknowledgement of your gift.
I got interested in volunteering at the Food Pantry during the Ministry Fair and have been volunteering for 8 years. I always work the registration table--either greeting and doing the paperwork for returning clients or registering new clients on Saturday mornings. I am a teacher in Montgomery County Public Schools, and this year I happen to be teaching English as a Second Language at JoAnn Leleck Elementary School (Broadacres)--right behind St. Camillus. Turns out that they have a monthly "Family Market" where parents can get fresh produce and other food items, and I've been helping a bit with that, too. Besides Pantry work, I've had the opportunity to participate in or lead several St. Francis Builds mission trips. The thing that all of this volunteering has in common is that I get to speak Spanish, which I love to do. I enjoy being able to connect with people, provide assistance, offer a listening ear, learn something new or just share a laugh through speaking a common language. The other thing that motivates me to volunteer at the Pantry is witnessing the profound dedication of volunteers such as Jean, Bernie, Joyce, Ellen and the many, many others. I'm so impressed by all the people who come together to make the Pantry happen, and that makes me want to do my small part, too.
Brother Mike has volunteered with the pantry off and on since 2013, returning to us on a weekly basis as a Friday afternoon mainstay since the onset of the pandemic. When asked about why he enjoys volunteering at the Pantry, Brother Mike explains, “I’ve found two new life-giving communities in my life.
For almost 60 years as a brother, my primary communities have been the Xaverian Brothers and the McCarthy family. I have been blessed with ministering in several Xaverian schools in the states as teacher and leadership, and serving with the brothers in two foreign countries: Bolivia for 7 years and Haiti for 6. I have been unbelievably blessed with the contacts of numerous students, faculty and staff, and above all my fellow Xaverian Brothers. Also my McCarthy family has expanded over the years from four siblings to abundant in-laws and numerous nieces, nephews and now grand nephews!!
When I returned to Takoma Park from the hills of Haiti in 2014, I felt somewhat lost, needing new community contacts. St. Camillus was the answer! The liturgies and the people fed my heart and spirit, and I rejoiced in God’s gift to me. The music and participation in the Multi-cultural liturgies was a highlight!
Through St. Camillus I discovered and became qualified in Hospice Ministry, serving at the Vet’s Hospital in D.C. as well as Montgomery Hospice. Meals on Wheels became a weekly friend. Then the Food Pantry became a possibility.
My two new life-giving communities are my fellow volunteers---an awesome, fun, faithful group of talented and generous men and women. They are one joy of my Friday ministry and feed my heart and soul. The other life-giving community is the many clients who come monthly to benefit from the food supplements. It is so much fun to talk and interact with the Haitian families and the Central and South American clients who frequent our pantry once a month.
Both groups comprise the face of Jesus for me; they keep me grounded in my life of service and fill my spirit and my heart with the joy of God’s love!! I feel very blessed and rejoice in being able to share my God through being an instrument of God’s love to others!!
Bro Mike (left) pictured with fellow volunteer, Danny
Tom and Jeannie
We like to meet people and give a hand where we can. Since retirement we have volunteered at the C-4 Clothes Closet, read newspapers for the blind at Washington Metropolitan Ear, and Tom has tutored. Looking for a new job, we joined the Food Pantry in 2019, when it was located in rectory basement. Jeannie was on a computer and Tom helped with bagging and distribution. We took a break because of the pandemic but were anxious to return. Pat Defino suggested we join the Thursday group to bag beans and rice. Two hours once a week well spent!
Cary, Jess, and Teri
What do you get when you put a teacher, a retiree-turned entrepreneur, and a digital marketing analyst together in one group? Well, when a Quinones family member is involved, you get a fun new addition to the Pantry’s volunteer roster. How did this awesome threesome get involved at the Pantry?
Cary explains, “One day Nikki Q and I were talking during virtual learning and I said I felt like I had no purpose. I was not able to do all the extra things at school because we were totally online. She mentioned the pantry she worked at needed people. And the rest is history!” Jess chimes in, “Cary brought me in, and I figured what a great thing to be involved in, especially at such a crazy time.” Teri agrees, “Cary invited me along after she started helping!! I am so glad she did!”
The lively trio came on board in the now-historic summer of 2020, when the demand for food at our pantry and others was off the charts. They started bagging food in the basement, then in the trailers (remember those summertime hot boxes and wintertime freezers?), and now do a mix of bagging up food and working the distribution tables handing it out.
Why do they enjoy working at the pantry?
True to form, Cary, who is known for her dry wit at the pantry, answered, “Who said I do? ” Then added, “I like meeting and working with great people who care about others just because. I also like to see that people are getting things they need to survive. It's neat when one of the clients is a former student and they remember me, and we get to chat about what they are doing now. It's even neater (is this a word?) to see my students as volunteers helping others.”
Teri added, “It’s always great to meet new people, especially other volunteers, and, additionally, it is a way to remind myself how truly blessed my situation in life is.” Jess shared the same sentiment, “I have been truly blessed in my life, and I try to always pay it forward.”
What do the ladies do when they’re not at the pantry?
Cary: In "real" life I am a high school teacher. I really enjoy when the kids get a concept and are so excited, or if I hear them explaining something I taught them to someone else in my words. I also work at UMD in Athletics for concessions at games. I run a concession stand at the Bowie Baysox games. I coach softball at Crofton High School, Go Cardinals! I co-own Shanks Golf Apparel! Be-Shankful! I’ve also volunteered at many places with my students mostly, soup kitchens, supply hand-outs, clean-up days.
Jess: I am retired. My background and education is in Human Resources, and I did that for 10 years or so. Then I did a complete 360, and I ended up co-owning a medical billing business for 15 years. I then decided to retire in 2017. Oh, and I take care of my 92-year old mom (soon to be 93!).
Teri: I have been volunteering for many years in a variety of roles - youth leader for my parish, coach for CYO, S.O.M.E, Habitat for Humanity, and more. I work full time as a Digital Marketing Analyst for AARP. This amazing non-profit allows employees to use Volunteer Service hours as paid leave up to 30+ hours a year! Which is why I started volunteering on Fridays more often. I also currently volunteer as a lector and on the RCIA team at my parish.
From left: Teri, Cary, and Jess
A BIG Thank You to one of our behind-the-scenes Thursday crews. These folks show up on Thursday mornings to meet our weekly food deliveries. They unload thousands and thousands of pounds of food, sort weekend donations, and get it all put on the shelves to make sure the distribution teams have what they need to feed the hungry in our community.
**The pantry is looking for a few extra folks to help with the early shift of beans and rice bagging. This work is done on Thursdays from 9am-11am. It involves occasional heavy lifting of large bags of beans and rice. If interested, please contact Jean Guevara at email@example.com
**The pantry could also use more help unloading, sorting, and storing food deliveries. This work is done on Thursdays as well, generally mid-day from 11:00-1:00. Please contact Patty Kolar at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining the team.
Lace up your sneakers!
Last year's St John the Jogger Virtual 5K to benefit the food pantry was a great success. Over $14,000 was raised for the pantry as participants walked, jogged, ran, and sashayed around the DC metro area and beyond! Plans for the 2022 5K are already in the works. Sign up at the link below!