Retiree finds rewards in helping the hungry

1112_LF Food Pantry 02By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

For decades, Anne Paladino has been helping feed hungry people in and around Harrington.

For many people, this octogenarian is the face of the Lake Forest Church Association Food Pantry located in a city-owned building on Dorman Street.

But she is unassuming, modest and reluctant to take credit for her ongoing and continuing commitment to the non-profit agency.

The Lake Forest Church Association Food Pantry is part of a network of 550 hunger-relief partners that aid the Food Bank of Delaware in distributing food to needy families.

Anne, now retired, first lent a hand to this pantry as a representative of her church, St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church in Harrington.

She is now the pantry coordinator, a position in which she is able to use her well-honed administrative skills.

As coordinator, she volunteers to help “shop” at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford warehouse, to schedule the 60 volunteers, to pay the bills and to take care of the multitude of challenges that face a non-profit agency.

Some of these tasks, she says, she is able to do at home, telecommuting from her home phone and laptop computer.

“I work on this every day. I can interview and qualify clients on the phone. I give them an appointment the same day if they need the food,” she said.

Over the years, the demand for services has grown.

“When I first started, we served six to 12 families a month,” Anne said.

In the past year, the pantry serves about 200 families each month, and 225 in October 2014. It’s open from 9 a.m. until noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

About 60 volunteers keep the agency functioning efficiently, and each time the pantry is open the volunteers serve 30-35 families.

“We pack individually for each family. Some pantries do generic boxes, but we consider the families, and we give more than most,” she said.

“We have volunteers here every day.  I have never met such giving, wonderful people as the people who volunteer here.”

While some families need the food pantry’s services on a regular basis, Anne says she sees more new people every day.

“There are people who have never been here before. We have a lot of people who are working part-time hours. We’re located near three senior and low-income housing communities,” she said. “We try to serve just the Lake Forest School District, but we rarely turn anyone away.”

This retiree finds her volunteer hours are quite rewarding.

“The reward is doing something for someone who can’t help themselves. I can be involved. I don’t want to be an 80-year-old lady sitting in front of the TV. I don’t go to bingo. I don’t go to bars. I don’t bowl. This is what I do,” she said.

For more information about becoming a Food Bank of Delaware Hunger-Relief partner, visit http://www.fbd.org/partners/prospective-partners/.

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