Thanking and Giving
When health challenges hastened her husband’s early retirement in 2016, friends reminded Mary that she and her husband qualified for food pantry assistance. A grateful Mary says that assistance freed up money to pay for other necessities, including medical expenses.
This wasn’t Mary’s first contact with LSS. Her family received counseling services many years ago when a 9-year-old Mary’s parents divorced. Later, she had a not-so-good initial experience as a volunteer at the Champion Avenue food pantry. A client yelled at her and she was pretty determined not to return.
A few years later, around 2013, Mary did return to the pantry as a volunteer. At first, she served about four times per year and learned not to take a client’s frustrations personally. Eventually she became pantry coordinator for her church, Faith Lutheran in Whitehall, and the frequency of her volunteer sessions increased.
Ultimately, when Mary and her husband sought pantry assistance, they went to the LSS pantry on Wilson Road. It was busy at the pantry that day. So busy, in fact, that it set a record for families served. The need for more volunteers was obvious.
Mary began volunteering at Wilson Road approximately twice each week. And she continued volunteering with her church group at Champion. After the Wilson Road site closed, Mary volunteered at the new distributions at the recreation center sites.
“When I increased my volunteer hours it was like being able to go to the job of my choice,” said Mary. “It quickly became more than that. The relationships that have been formed, the friendships that have been made, and the knowledge I have gained are priceless.”
Mary now coordinates all of Faith’s support of the LSS Food Pantries and the coordination of in-kind donations to the pantries, LSS Faith Mission and LSS CHOICES. She recently completed training for PantryTrak, which checks in pantry clients, and Help Desk, which assists those who need help with the online ordering system. All in addition to her regular volunteer hours at the pantry.
Mary doesn’t view her volunteer hours at the LSS Food Pantries as ‘giving back.’ Nor does she see it as something worthy of praise. It’s something she enjoys. Her involvement was actually quite intentional and one of the reasons she retired early was to do work like this more often.
Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio is a United Way agency, a member of Lutheran Services in America and a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
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