Sharing a Smile

For more than 6 years, Darlene Smith’s smile has welcomed clients at the Food Pantry just about every Wednesday afternoon.  Sitting at the sign-in table, Darlene has registered thousands of Pantry clients for services – and watched the Pantry itself grow and evolve.

“When I first started here, I followed my daughter in as a volunteer. We had a few computers that were about a hundred years old, and we would give clients pre-filled bags of groceries – now they can choose,” says Darlene. “I like talking to people and helping.  With so much going on in the world, we have to help each other out when we can, and for the most part the clients really seem to appreciate it.”

After all of these years of volunteering, Darlene has never actually seen the Pantry itself as she uses a wheelchair to get around and the Pantry’s steps prevent her from getting up there.  But volunteering at the registration table lets her be a part of the Pantry family, and she has made many friends among the Pantry’s regular clients.

“I think the Pantry works to make people feel better about themselves.  I know some of the regulars—one client named Robert has the same ailments as my husband, and always asks about him.  I used to work the USDA desk, but since we no longer do that, clients sometimes stop by to where I work on the computers, just to say hello.”

Darlene has witnessed many changes.  A single desktop computer has given way to 4 iPads, paper forms are all but gone, and clients who once took whatever they were given now choose the food they like and need.  Our nutrition program now helps clients use Pantry items creatively and deliciously, and blood pressure screenings give them vital health information. 

One thing, however, doesn’t change; volunteers like Darlene make this a welcoming place, where need is met with a helping hand and a warm smile. 

View FY2016 Annual Report