It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our
long-time pantry volunteer and friend, Hary Puente-Duany.
Sadly, after a short battle with pancreatic cancer, Hary
left us Saturday, May 20.
Hary spent his career in Federal service after serving in
the Vietnam War, but most of us knew Hary as the tireless
registration volunteer, who was a mainstay both on Friday
afternoons AND Saturday mornings. He filled in for Ellen
as Registration Supervisor, holding down the fort any
Saturday she was away. When the schedule came out with
several empty slots, Hary would single-handedly cover at
least half of them.
It wasn't unusual for him to go the extra mile; both Thanksgiving weekend and New Year's weekend, he worked back-to-back shifts, coming in for those Friday afternoons as well as the following Saturday mornings.
Hary was a hard-worker, a team player, a true gem, and our heartfelt prayers go out to his wife, Noelia, and his family during this difficult time. Rest in peace, Hary!
Meet one of our many behind-the-scenes teams: Mary Frances Jimenez and her troop of enthusiastic helpers. Like so many parents, Mary Frances had been looking for a volunteer opportunity where she could not only bring her children along, but they could actively participate. She wanted a tangible way for her young kids to connect with the needs that exist in their own community.
Reading about the pantry in the church bulletin, she
reached out to see if there was a way her family could help. One of the best ways for young families to help in the pantry is to come in when the pantry is closed, the space is not so crowded, and the pace is not so hectic. So Mary Frances and her children were added as a “back-up family” to our current rotation of shelvers, who come to the pantry on Mondays to shelve the food that is donated at the weekend masses. This allows our Friday crew to come in and get straight to work preparing to open for business, not having to shelve the bags of food that may be piled up.
Mary Frances, her sons Owen and Elliott and her then one-year-old daughter Imogen all proved to be an amazing asset to pantry operations, coming at the last minute after school to fill in when the scheduled family couldn’t make it or when the load was too heavy for one family alone. In time, Mary Frances and the kids became regulars, covering one shift a month.
She’s also added another member of the family to the pantry effort; her son Arlo was born last fall and has already made two appearances at the pantry himself! Since she’s working with kids, she has found it particularly helpful to have a regularly-scheduled commitment and a recurring job, so they are already familiar with the responsibilities every time they come to the pantry.
Over the years, Mary Frances and her older boys have engaged in an ongoing conversation about everything from the circumstances that might put people in need of food help to the nutritional categories that pantry items help meet. They also share the joy of the work itself--as her now four year old daughter, Imogen, says: "I just like to put things on the cart and put them where they go."
Nancy Wiltz is a familiar face at St. Camillus, volunteering as a catechist in the Faith Formation program and a Eucharistic minister at Sunday Mass, but she’s also a longtime-volunteer in the food pantry. When Nancy retired in 2008, the food pantry seemed like an obvious way to help others and help St. Camillus. She became a regular Friday afternoon volunteer, recollecting, “In those days, you brought a book with you, although you usually talked to the other workers instead of reading, but we were lucky if we had 25 or 30 people. Needless to say, the food pantry quickly became a much busier place, and there was no time for reading!”
However, those were the days that we pushed
the bins around on the floor, and even two hours
of pushing gave Nancy’s back spasms, so after
several years, she reluctantly "resigned." It was
only a matter of time, though, before longtime
pantry supervisor, Bernie, invented the "wheelie
bins," which alleviated the difficult pushing, so
Nancy rejoined her pantry family and has been
with us ever since. Since she lives a good
distance from St. Camillus, she now comes only
once a month, but she makes it worth her while,
coming for the pre-shift and the regular shift –
a 3.5 hour commitment!
Why does Nancy enjoy it? “I love coming, meeting
the people who need food when I am 'bagging'
or chatting with the other workers when I am filling the bins. I love serving others, and the volunteers who have been coming a long time are like family. We joke and laugh, and we all enjoy working together to help others – some from Africa, some from Central America, some from Russia. It is an amazingly rewarding 'job.'”
Mary Frances Jimenez
Food for Thought
How You Can Contribute
Our Food for Thought book-sharing program continues to go very well. The children are always very pleased to receive free books when they accompany their families to the food pantry. While we are often pretty well-staffed with book-givers on Saturday mornings, we don't always have enough book-givers to staff this position on Friday afternoons. In such cases, unfortunately, books are not distributed. If you or someone you know would be interested in helping with book-giving work on Friday afternoons from 2:30-5:00, please contact Jude Cassidy for more information at email@example.com.
Also, our Food for Thought program is often in need of gently-used books for younger children, especially toddler board books. If you have gently-used books that you'd like to donate, please feel free to drop them off at the food pantry during normal hours, so someone will be there to receive them. Fridays 2:30-5:00 and Saturdays 9:30-12:00 (noon). Thank you!
A Special Thank You!
Thank you to the students, families, and faculty at St. John the Baptist Elementary School for their recent book-drive to benefit our Food for Thought book-giving program. They brought over seven boxes of books, which we were able to begin sharing immediately.
We are blessed to have so many friends supporting the efforts of the pantry!
Seasoned pros in the food pantry registration room, Pat and Don Clausen, have hung up their registration hats. Pat and Don have been volunteering in the pantry for so many years, it’s hard to pin down exactly when they came on board!
They have been a tremendous asset to our registration efforts on Friday afternoons, when it’s often difficult to get volunteers. They have watched the process change and improve over the years, often taking huge leaps technology-wise from where we started. While we still take information down on paper forms, our registration team also uses hand-held scanners and laptops to make the process quicker and more efficient. The Clausens were critical in implementing these tools into the Friday afternoon routine.
While Pat and Don have moved on to new weekday volunteer opportunities, happily they aren’t going far. We are still likely to bump into them at Sunday Mass or see them at the front of the church in Eucharistic Minister roles. Thank you, Pat and Don, for all you’ve done to support the food pantry over the years!
Share in Hope Lenten Food Drive
A big thank you to all who contributed to the Share in Hope Lenten Food Drive sponsored by Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese of Washington.
St Camillus collected over 2000 pounds of food, with help from our dedicated partners at Adelphi Friends Meeting. Our long-time supporters at St John the Baptist collected 1500 pounds of food for the pantry through this effort as well!
Good News Update
Everyone's buddy, Dave Cape, who had to take a break from pantry duty to have surgery for his torn rotator cuff, is on the mend and doing great! He has started physical therapy and is coming along very well.
Because of a new technique in rotator cuff surgery, he is actually feeling no pain at all during his recovery and rehab. If things continue to go well, he'll be back with his bright smile when the July-August shifts roll around.
EAT YOUR VEGGIES!
June 17th is National Eat Your Vegetables Day! In celebration of this, and to help those in need to also be able to celebrate, we are asking the community to participate in our canned vegetable drive.
Donation bags will be available at St. Camillus Church the weekend before (June 10/11). So, be sure to grab a bag and return it the next week so we can all eat our veggies!
Continuing to Serve
We are happy to be able to serve the people in our community and we would like to share our population served to-date. We look forward to continuing working with these families and we are committed to providing food relief for those in need!