Why I Serve as Clerk of the Board of Management/Counting My Blessings at the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry

Why I Serve as Clerk of the Board of Management/

by Dave Schowalter

Black chalice logo

We all come to UUCW for different reasons.  Maybe it’s Aaron’s weekly reflection, which is always an artful blend of the intellectual and the spiritual.  For some it is the Religious Education program, which teaches our children the moral values and Seven Principles we all hold so dear.  Maybe it is fellowship with others who share these values.  Or taking part in social justice causes.  Or maybe it is all of these things.  Whatever the case, we consider ourselves lucky to be part of such a community.

So what keeps this place going?  This is the question I asked some years ago when I was first asked to take part in committee work for the Church.  I realized that it was people just like me who gave their time and talents. I will bypass the famous quote from the book of Matthew about not hiding your candle under a bushel, and go to Ben Franklin who had more of a concise, and technological reference:

“Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?”

While serving as a member-at-large on the Board of Management, I connected the dots that one of my professional strengths was being organized and tracking tasks and projects.  The role of clerk primarily involves being the record keeper of the church.  I am hopeful that bringing my talent for efficiency and organization benefits the church, and in that small way, helps to keep our doors open for healing, peace, and loving community.

In addition, although I am an engineer by training, my professional career has involved marketing and business development for the last 17 years.  I enjoy developing a strategy that solves problems for customers, but also makes a profit for an organization.  Given this, and the financial challenges we face as a church, I agreed to lead the Commercial Ministries Task Force, whose goal is to find and support ways for UUCW to become fiscally sustainable while extending our mission at the same time.  The task force believes that this will most likely involve the use of our unique location within Worcester and our space.  Rather than simply renting our space to an outside organization, however, we believe that we will be more successful by “owning” a successful venture that takes advantage of our space and our talents while aligning that venture with UUCW ideals.

The key to “sustainable volunteering” is aligning your efforts with not just your talents, but also your passions.

What do you feel passionate about, and what are your talents that you can share with UUCW and help us continue to thrive?

 


Counting My Blessings at the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry
by , Co-Chair, Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry

 

Our thoughts gravitate to thankfulness at this special Season of the year.  As I write this, I think of all that has occurred in the last week as we prepared for the big Thanksgiving distribution at the Food Pantry.  Sometimes I wish you all were in the same seat as me so that you could see first-hand the issues our folks deal with every day.  So, today, I want to give you a glimpse of my life over the past week.  I share it with you so that you will be able to understand a little better.

On Wednesday, one of our elderly folks came to see us about a decrease in her SNAP benefits. You see, the Federal Government recently did an adjustment regarding the cost of food and shelter.  This affected different people differently -hers were decreased a little bit.  She was nursing the last of some sweet potatoes she had been able to purchase and was looking forward to the fresh produce we provide.

On Thursday, I was busy helping to make certain that there was going to be a produce delivery and enough gift cards.  A woman I hadn’t seen in several years called the Food Pantry line because she’d been out of work for several weeks due to a recent surgery.  She needed food for her family of eight.  I told her it would be best if she came on Saturday.  (I was so glad to see her then!)

Early Friday morning I was at the Church to meet a woman along with her case-worker.  This young woman, perhaps 30 years old, was in an area homeless shelter with her boyfriend and two toddlers.  She had no money as she recently had been in a car accident and was using a crutch to get around.  I provided her with some of our staples and a “Thanksgiving Goodie Bag.”  Then, since she said she could bake, I carefully packed some chocolate chips and flour for her hoping that she would bake some cookies for her toddlers.  She thanked me and gave me several hugs before she left.  I was in tears by then.

Our Friday night set-up was total “organized chaos”.  Perhaps fifteen or more volunteers were there setting up.  Children and parents were busy assembling additional “Goodie Bags”.  People were sorting, counting, carrying and laughing.  The spirit in the room was so joyful.

Early Saturday morning our folks arrive for their vitally needed food.  Many are already there at 8:30 when I arrive.  Even before I entered the door, one of our regulars asked me if I wanted a cup of coffee.  Somehow she had an extra one.  That was the most welcome cup of coffee I’d had in a while.  We exchanged a hug as I told her thanks.  Some of the folks were teasing me about being famous.  You see, there was this little Article in the Telegram and Gazette about our Pantry.  Oh how they make me laugh!

Volunteers come in and do whatever is needed to help things run smoothly. I am so grateful for them. As I talk to people who are there, I learn that there is a new elderly woman from Colony Retirement Homes, later there would be another as well as several new folks who learn about us a variety of ways.  One of our long term folks tells me that she is unable to get SNAP benefits since she is an immigrant. Her VISA status does not allow her to get SNAP benefits.  Another woman tells me that her mother-in-law passed away and the service is on Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  And, as usual one of our folks brings in a handmade cake for all the volunteers.  You see, they minister to us as much as we minister to them.

At this moment, I’m writing this having taken care of three more families this morning to help them have a Happy Thanksgiving.  That is a total of 74 families cared for this Holiday.

I’m counting my blessings.  I have enough food to eat.  I have shelter.  I had a great cup of coffee, a piece of cake and a lot of friends to share it with.  And, I have the opportunity to do this important work in this difficult world.  I’m sharing my blessings with you.

May you have a blessed and grateful Thanksgiving.