"Why I volunteer!"
"Time, Treasure, and Talent"
Dave Cape is one of our fantastic Friday afternoon pantry volunteers. When he and his wife Eileen joined the parish back in 2012, Dave was anticipating retirement and wanted to offer his services, so he asked where he could be of help. The person he spoke to in the parish office said she'd pass his name on to the food pantry coordinators, and we're so glad she did! Dave has been a tremendous asset to the food pantry ministry. He has been working in the bagging and distribution area of the pantry since he started and has even expanded his efforts into helping with food deliveries on Thursdays. When asked why he enjoys volunteering, Dave says, "Aside from knowing that we are helping people who really need it and the satisfaction this brings, I thoroughly enjoy working side by side with the other volunteers in the group." This is a common sentiment among food pantry volunteers, as the fellowship one finds working in the pantry makes the time spent volunteering even more rewarding. In addition to volunteering with the food pantry, Dave also volunteers as an usher at the Music Center at Strathmore. In his free time he enjoys singing with the Congressional Chorus; in fact, Dave is one of the group's founding members!
"A Helping Hand"
Ellen has been an invaluable asset to the St. Camillus Food Pantry. Seven years ago, when she retired from her job as a high school math teacher in Wisconsin and moved to Silver Spring, she was seeking a vibrant parish and a place where she could volunteer to help others. She says, “I am not a committee person and much prefer doing than talking." Well, Ellen found the right place! She explains, the “St. Camillus Food Pantry is definitely a 'doing' place where we make a difference in the lives of others” on a weekly basis. Ellen initially worked as a volunteer with our data entry team to help us with the backlog of paper-based client registration records. She helped us transition from paper-based data entry to a fully computer based registration system. Ellen is at the Pantry every Saturday morning, helping to support the volunteers doing registration for new and returning clients, assisting those who are less experienced, and being there as a “go to” person when registration questions arise. She makes sure that new client information from Friday's sessions has been entered correctly in the database and also helps enter new client information for Saturday. Ellen is critical to the success of our database efforts by helping us assure the quality of the data that we enter that directly.
Ulessly Relf, Jr., better known as “Bernie,” has volunteered since 2005 with the St Camillus Food Pantry. He initially began working with Meals on Wheels and now has become an integral member of the Pantry. Bernie was born in Montgomery, Alabama and served in the United States Air Force for 21 years. Upon retirement from military service, Bernie was employed with the Safeway Food Chain for 24 years. He became a member of St. Camillus in September 1980. As a critical member of the Food Pantry, Bernie currently volunteers four days a week, accomplishing “anything that needs to be done” including: maintaining proper supplies for the Pantry, insuring needed inventory is stocked and available, opening and closing of the Pantry on the days of operation, and many other tasks too numerous to list. Bernie says he enjoys the work of the Pantry and the involvement of all the other dedicated volunteers who work together to help those in need.
Joyce Romanus, affectionately known as “Bernice” (smile), has been volunteering with the Pantry since 2009. For the past several months she has been a critical support as Bernie’s “backup”. She first joined the Pantry after talking with Joan Conway at the St. Camillus Ministry Fair. Joyce is a self-employed accountant and also serves as the volunteer coordinator for Hospitality and Fair Trade. Joyce began volunteering as a bagger, supporting the Food Pantry. Several years ago, she transitioned into helping Bernie as his backup supporting “anything that needs to be done,” including facilitating the distribution of turkeys for the Thanksgiving holiday. Joyce has also successfully recruited her neighbor to help volunteer and also brings her daughters to support the work of the Pantry.
Vincent (Yao-Jen) Lu, is an invaluable asset to the St Camillus Food Pantry. He was born in Taiwan and initially joined the Langley Park Food Pantry project via The Tzu Chi Foundation USA. In May, 2010 Vincent committed to serve the Food Pantries of St. Camillus on a regular basis. He is a graduate from the University of Maryland, College Park obtaining a Master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering and is a contract employee with the federal government. Vincent, utilizes his education background to create and develop a state of the art, database management and Identification Card system for the two pantries. He organized a complete, detailed, information database for more than the 5,000 families we serve. His efforts have enabled the pantry to realize our goal by greatly accelerating the registration process time, assisting more families in need and decreasing pantry abuse. In addition to his IT technical expertise, Vincent regularly volunteers for duties inputting registration information, inventory control, shopping, shelving, and distributing food in both pantries. Vincent is willing to do whatever to help insure the Pantry’s success and we are so lucky to have him!
"Supporting Our Neighbors In Need"
Moises Cervantes, is a contract carpenter and stone mason who was born in Jalapa, Guatemala and has lived in Langley Park for many years. Moises has served his community as an active member of Esperanza Latina, a young adult organization, which organizes spiritual, recreational, and community events. Increasing his volunteer effort in the community, he has been a dedicated asset to the St. Camillus Food Pantry since November 2008, working in a leadership role, with focus on volunteer recruitment, inventory, quality control, and restocking. He runs database activities and theregistration system at the Langley Park location of the Food Pantry. His ideas to move to a bar code system for client ID cards three years ago transformed the efficiency of the pantries and the ability to accomodate an increasing number of clients in need. Moises possesses a myriad of skills which include stonemason, landscaper, painter and roofer. He is a greatly valued asset in our Pantry. St. Camillus is fortunate to have so many talented, outstanding and dedicated volunteers.
Brian Crowe is one of our shining stars from St. Elizabeth's Parish supporting the Food Pantry. As a faithful servant, each month Brian staples our menu to paper grocery bags and puts them out for the parishioners at St. Elizabeth's to fill. He delivers the over 150 bags filled with needed food, carrying them down the stairs into the Pantry. During previous winters, Brian conducted emergency coat, hat, and glove collections for our families in cold January, and delivered many cases of bath soap. We are so grateful to have Brian's unwavering and steadfast support for the Pantry!
Carol Hoage is one of our amazing volunteers. She has supported the St. Camillus Food Pantry for several years in a variety of ways. Primarily as a member of the bagging crew, she helps to prepare items for families needing assistance. She has also helped with behind-the-scenes coordination of shopping lists and grocery bags for the annual Archdiocesan food drive during Lent. Carol helped coordinate food drives to benefit our pantry, and is always quick to substitute when another volunteer can't make his or her shift. She does it all with a warm smile and a giving heart! She is one of a number of volunteers from the Quaker Meeting in Adelphi. Carol says the Quaker congregation is too small to run its own pantry so she and others are excited to partner with St. Camillus to feed the less fortunate!! Over the years, she says she has seen many changes. Initially, volunteers were bending over and pushing the bins, by hand, filled with bags of groceries down the hallway. When Bernie, a fellow volunteer, suggested the use of rolling, stackable bins, his suggestion “really saved our backs." Carol is a retired clinical psychologist and after 30 years, she says she needed other avenues to help people. She enjoys volunteering because it is a way to feel that she is “contributing to something very important - and a way to honor that of God in everyone.” We are so thankful to have Carol’s support for many of the Pantry efforts.
"A Helping Hand"
Maureen Feroli is another fantastic volunteer. She leads the St. Elizabeth's team of volunteers who serve the families on the 4th Saturday of every month at the Langley Park Pantry. She also brings M&M treats for the children visiting the Pantry. This fall she brought hundreds of children’s books to the pantry for distribution. The children love to get the books, even more than the candy! On the 4th Saturday of December every year, Maureen brings toiletry items for the adults and small games or toys for the children, all of which have been generously donated by the parishioners of St. Elizabeth's. We are so fortunate to have her support to us!
"Helping Us Help Others"
Patty Kolar is one of our incredibly dedicated volunteers. She organizes the team that purchases groceries from the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB). She became a shopper at the CAFB in the fall of 2008. She had taken the Just Faith course andwanted to become more involved in a service ministry. She was recruited by Joan Conway, as she knew that Patty could help out during the week and recruited her to become part of the team that interfaced with the CAFB. She later asked Patty to take on scheduling the Thursday volunteers. We now have four teams of shoppers that go to the CAFB each week, pick up the St. Camillus order and shop for any of the fresh produce that might be available. Another team of volunteers meets the shoppers at the pantry and unloads the truck and shelves the delivery.
They also shelve the donations we get from other parishes and organizations. Patty states, "our Thursday volunteers are a wonderful group and I am so grateful to them for their flexibility and patience since the 'schedule'is frequently amended."
According to Patty, shopping at the CAFB can be a bit of a treasure hunt. Some weeks there are boxes of beautiful apples and big bags of carrots and onions and that is so rewarding. When she has one of those trips, the phrase from the Magnificat comes to my mind , “He has filled the hungry with good things,” Patty enjoys feeling that we are bringing good things to people who have a lot of struggles in life. She also enjoys driving Fr. Mike’s truck (big smile). We are so fortunate to have Patty and other dedicated volunteers helping support the Pantry needs each week. If you would like to join the shopping team on Thursdays, please email us, we are always looking for more help.
"Encouraging Food for Thought"
Jude Cassidy is one of our amazing volunteers for the Pantry. She joined St. Camillus in fall 2013 and "fell in love" with the church and immediately began exploring the website to find out about opportunities to help. After a quick perusal of the web, she contacted Joan Conway, who put her in contact with our Volunteer Coordinator, Jean Guevara, and immediately was scheduled to work as a bagger. As a professor at the University of Maryland with a background in developmental psychology, she was so impressed with how smoothly and efficiently the Pantry functioned that she wanted to get even more involved. After a couple of months working as a bagger, she noticed the children’s positive responses to the books they received at the pantry after a Christmas book drive. She was thrilled to see the faces of the children light up when they were given a book for their very own. When they ran out of books the following January, Jude sought to find other sources for the books. She would buy books at Value Village and yard sales to try to keep a supply on hand at the Pantry, but soon realized that the demand was steadily increasing and spoke about the need to Father Mike. Coincidentally, Father Mike had arranged for book drop off locations on the St. Camillus campus
and in exchange, he coordinated the delivery of a large order of children's book to be delivered and stored in the basement of the church. Brian Carreira organized a youth group to help sort and shelve 1000s of books. To help coordinate the distribution efforts, Jude developed a program, now called "Food for Thought," where volunteer "librarians" are present at each Pantry session at St. Camillus to distribute children’s books to many smiling little faces on Fridays and Saturdays. (Although volunteers who give out the books are called “librarians”, the books are for the children to keep for themselves). Volunteers also prepare boxes of books for distribution at the Langley Park Pantry, which are picked up by Vincent Lu. Jude noted how Joyce Romanus and Bernie Relf set up the book table each week for the St. Camillus Pantry, and how countless “strong, young men” would transport the 50 lb boxes of books from the church basement to the Pantry as needed. Thanks to the combined efforts of many, last year over 3000 books were distributed! We are so blessed to have Jude helping us bring smiles to many children at the Pantry!
"Committed Service to Others"
Jean Guevara, our Volunteer Coordinator, is a blessing to the St. Camillus Food Pantry. She has been volunteering with the Pantry since about 2001. Jean started attending St Camillus when her boys were very little. She stayed home with them and was interested in volunteering, so she needed work that could be done with little kids in tow. Shelving donated food items in the pantry once a month was a great fit, because not only could she bring her 2 and 4 year olds with her, but it was work that they could help with too. She homeschooled for 11 years, so they made volunteering at church a regular part of their family schedule. It was a great way to help out and to model for her boys the idea that helping others should be a regular part of their lives.
Over the subsequent years, the Pantry grew from one volunteer a week to shelve donated food and one volunteer per shift (Wednesdays and Fridays back then) to distribute food. The bagger had to bring a book for something to do during those long spells between clients. There was no registration capability for the Pantry. Once the pantry expanded and other volunteers came on board, the fellowship of working alongside others brought along the enjoyment factor. Now, Jean does most of her volunteering from home, collecting volunteer availability from approximately 80 people to create schedules for the bagging room and the registration room. She says, "It's a good mental exercise!" She also monitors the rotation of Monday shelvers. Jean has a tremendous job which helps keep the Pantry running smoothly and she is such an asset and role model for all of us!!
Ralph and Chris Quinones
"Double Duty and Dedicated Support"
Ralph and Chris have been volunteering in the food pantry ministry for seven years now. Ralph says, "We became involved when we first saw the request in the church bulletin. We came to help on a Saturday morning, and when they found out we were retired they said they could really us on Thursdays." On Thursdays, Patty Kolar has groups of volunteers coming to one of the two pantries to meet the weekly, or sometimes biweekly, food delivery from the Capital Area Food Bank. A rotating team of volunteers does the shopping, vehicle loading, and driving, then the other group is on hand at the pantry waiting for the vehicle to arrive. The food is unloaded, taken down to the pantry, and put on the shelves.
Ralph and Chris have been a part of this effort for several years when Jean Guevara, who schedules our Friday and Saturday volunteers, found out they were available on Fridays and happy to help then as well. As an added bonus, Ralph speaks Spanish, so while Chris is working in bagging and distribution, Ralph is around the corner registering our clients to receive food.
When asked why they volunteer, Ralph insists, "We enjoy it, because it gives us an opportunity to give back to the community that gave us so much. An extra benefit is that we get to meet so many great people who also volunteer, so we've made some new friends. Besides the many hours they log at the pantry, they also volunteer at their daughter's school to help distribute food.
Thank you, Ralph and Chris! Our community is better because of you.
"Dedicated Service to our Community"
Longtime volunteer, Delia Naranjo, was introduced to the food pantry by her daughter Carla. She knew the pantry needed bilingual volunteers and knew that her mother had volunteered in the past with the community where she'd lived in West Virginia, so she thought it could be a good fit for Delia. Seven years later, Delia is still volunteering at the pantry and is an integral part of our efforts in the registration room. A fellow volunteer sums it up best when she says, "Delia is fantastic with our clients - patient, attentive, warm, and supportive. She works the triage end of the registration table, and she is organized, thorough, and absolutely invaluable."
When asked why she enjoys volunteering, Delia says, "It's because I like to help people. I feel that there is always something I can do to help others. I try to put myself in their shoes and think how grateful I would be if someone tried to help me."
Delia was born in Ecuador, where she worked as a surgical nurse. Later she worked as an office manager and used her nursing profession skills as an advocate to improve the health and social issues of the community where she lived. Thank you, Delia, for sharing your talents and love for people with the food pantry ministry!
Longtime Pantry Volunteer
Judy Clavelli is one of our longtime shining stars at the Pantry. Judy works in the bagging area of the St. Camillus food pantry. She is often there on Friday afternoons, hours before the pantry opens, working the recently-added "pre-shift." Judy is one of a few folks who come for the pre-shift and work all the way through the pantry's operational hours until it closes at 5:00pm.
She became involved with us via the Langley Park pantry, as Joan Conway and folks from the community were just starting it up several years ago. Judy belongs to St. Elizabeth's in Rockville; they were involved with the Langley Park pantry from the beginning, and that is how Judy learned about the opportunity to volunteer with us. She helped out at the Langley Park location for a period of time, but she saw that they were getting many more volunteers than they needed at the time, and the St. Camillus pantry needed help too, so she started volunteering there instead. She said it perfectly when she explained, "We are all helping the same communities, after all."
Judy has witnessed the many growing pains the pantry has gone through, but says now it runs so smoothly, thanks to Bernie, Joyce, Kris, and many other wonderful volunteers, that it is a joy to work there.
Volunteering is not new to Judy; she has been volunteering all of her life at her church and her children's schools. She knew that when she retired in 2006, she would have time to be more involved in community outreach programs and other areas. Judy has a busy calendar and serves a variety of people in all walks of life. In addition to the Pantry, she volunteers at the Smithsonian Institution, the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and various other places. She states, "To me, volunteer work is a pleasure, and it is rewarding to know that you might be making some small difference in someone's life." We are so thankful to Judy for her service and support of the Pantry!
Judy says, "The volunteers are all terrific, and I have met so many wonderful people. It is inspiring. And it is rewarding to meet the people that come for assistance. They are always so pleasant and cheerful. It is such a pleasure to be able to provide them some help.
I believe that the Pantry is making a difference."
Mark and Matthew Igbinosun
THANK YOU to longtime, behind-the-scenes pantry volunteers, Matthew and Mark Igbinosun. Teen brothers, Matthew and Mark, are self-appointed pantry helpers. Several years ago after mass, they noticed a fellow parishioner gathering food from the Sunday collection to carry over to the pantry. It was a particularly large food collection. Matthew tells us, "We said to ourselves that there is no way he's carrying all that alone, so we went to help." From that day on, the boys continued to help. But more than that, they took full responsibility for getting the food from the church over to the pantry Sunday after Sunday. Often it's just the two of them, carrying multiple bags and even hauling full bins of food to the pantry, where they unload it and then bring the empty bins back to their places near the altar, ready for the next mass. They take the initiative to get the key to the friary basement from Julie, our sacristan, and are always sure to return it when they finish. The boys have made it such a part of their Sunday routine that they don't even recall just how many years they've been doing it. When asked why they volunteer, they say, "It's simple: just to help others." Thank you, Matthew and Mark for a job well-done! We're so happy to have you as a part of our ministry!