|Photo by John Sladewski|
Fred, a retired teamster who uses the skills learned from his employment in loading, unloading and moving pantry food and supplies, remembers that four years ago when he first started volunteering at the pantry some things such as the process for picking up food in Boston and the number of persons receiving aid were very different then they are now. He also notes that some other things, such as the desire of volunteers like himself to help others, are very much the same as they have always been. When asked about his involvement in the pantry Fred smiles and says that “it's a good way to keep busy”. Anyone who hears Fred and sees that smile knows that “keeping busy” at the pantry means a lot to Fred. He has strong memories associated with Saint Anthony's and with the neighborhood – he and his wife Jacqueline, who also works at the pantry, were married at the church and Fred's father had a variety store just two blocks away. Fred's sister Lorraine works at the pantry as well making Fred's time at Saint Anthony's very much a family activity.
Jorge has been working at the pantry for more than five years. He first came to the pantry because he needed food like so many others in New Bedford do. Jorge had learned about the the pantry from a friend and once he had visited he quickly decided he wanted to help. He saw the pantry as a place to serve others. Jorge's day at the pantry starts early with helping to set up tables for distributing food and continues with doing cooking preparation for the lunch that is provided each Thursday. Perhaps because of his original reason for coming to the pantry Jorge seems to share a particular empathy with those who come each week – he remembers seeing a lot of people come and go as their lives change. He remembers in particular one visitor who was very discouraged with life. Pantry volunteers went with that visitor into the church where they prayed together. Jorge feels that “We are more than a food pantry – we are a place of hope.” He remembers the number of persons coming to the pantry when he first started working here and when observing the growing numbers of people we serve now Jorge is pleased to be able to help address the increasing need for food and hope.
Many other volunteers support the efforts of the Saint Anthony Food Pantry. Their stories, as well stories of the visitors to the pantry, may inspire you to help. If you feel you can help, please call the coordinator of the food pantry, Paula Briden, at 508-993-1691, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .