Before you get to see a few photos of the party itself, it's important to recognize the extraordinary work of Todd Linebaugh, our Volunteer of the Year. Todd gave of himself not just this past year, but all through the changes that Covid brought to our pantry. He is a leader in every sense of the word, leading by example and doing so while smiling and making jokes the entire time. It helps that he's a comedian in real life! While what we do at the pantry is serious work, there is no reason we can't enjoy it.
Todd comes from a store management background, so he is just as qualified to run this pantry as I am, if not more. He has been an enormous help as we've had to completely change the way the pantry is run in the past few years. We sometimes need to make decisions on the spur of the moment, and those adjustments can be intense. No matter what the crisis, he is level-headed and quick to point out that we can handle it, and offer solutions. I truly believe the fact that we are here with our doors open two years after Covid is due to the sacrificial effort of this one man. I honestly don't think I could have survived without him. So, thanks, Todd, once again, because I can't say it enough!
The photos above are just a small sample. There were more things happening and more people than you can see, but we were having too much fun to remember to take many pictures! And the food! Oh, was there a lot of food! We did pot luck, because our volunteers didn't want us to use Lifewerks money to feed them, which just goes to show what a great bunch they are. Everyone who attended said they had a great time, and I'm so grateful that we have the kind of camradarie in our pantry that has developed into a group of people who want to spend even more time together than they already do. I can't say enough about our volunteers. They astound me and inspire me. Just like I said with Todd, I wouldn't still be doing this if it weren't for so many wonderful volunteers who have given so much of their time, and spoken so many encouraging words. Before Covid, our volunteer base was mainly staffed by student volunteer interns from Widener University and Swarthmore College. Overnight we lost them all when the schools shut down. My husband and I will never forget getting together with the ones who came to say goodbye, with tears rolling down their cheeks. A good number were students who had come as freshmen and were weeks away from graduation. A graduation that they all ended up having to celebrate at home. Down through the years we have loved our student volunteers and watching them mature during their four years with us, and adopting them as our own has been a joy. In that eventful March of 2020, within two weeks (even with an increase in the number of clients) we had enough volunteers who stepped up from the community to keep our doors open. It was a struggle to be sure, as we also had to change the way we were operating. Wearing masks and trying to stay six feet apart while filling food orders, when no one had done any of those things before, was a learning curve for all of us. Most of the people at the party were there almost from the beginning of that time. We have been to war and survived! This volunteer party turned into what will become an annual event, and maybe even more often, who knows? After all, it's not my pantry, it's our pantry.