By Maureen McNair
Several months ago, Rev. Kathleen Owens asked me what the process was I used to run the food pantry. I told her it has been like laying down the tracks while the train is coming. So, after 17 straight months of creating and operating the food pantry, I am taking a vacation the last two weeks in May. I have planned a stay-cation.
The food pantry, diaper distribution, congregant food delivery, and feeding people experiencing homelessness will continue thanks to spouses Nina Douglass and Jeﬀ Kline, who have agreed to substitute for me. Many of you may not have met them because they joined our church during the pandemic.
I met them one fateful Sunday in December 2019. They had just moved to Chula Vista from Boston. Jeﬀ had retired as a Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Boston University, and Nina — who is ﬂuent in Spanish — had accepted a job here with the International Rescue Committee. They came to the South Bay worship service right after I received permission to open the pantry. We met in the social hall after service. As far as I am concerned, that meeting spot is sacred ground.
They are truly founding members of the food pantry. We cleaned the small room we had been given of mounds of stuﬀ — carpet remnants, paint cans, garbage bags of used clothes someone had collected but not distributed, music stands, a crib, and the like.
Jeﬀ did the lifting and assembly of heavy duty shelving, anchoring a bookcase to the wall, borrowing tables from Hillcrest while Nina was at work. Then, the pandemic was suddenly on us, and like many people, they went into self-quarantine.
I kept them up to date on what was happening at the pantry through Zoom and emails. When they were fully vaccinated, they came back to volunteer at the pantry right away.
The pantry has many dedicated volunteers who could take over operations. But, Nina and Jeﬀ are uniquely qualiﬁed because they are available to get food Monday - Friday when the food banks are open. And, since they live in Chula Vista, the commute will not be so onerous on those occasions when someone has to be at the pantry three or four diﬀerent times on the same day. So, for the next two issues of The Window, watch for their blogs. I will be excited to read them too.
The First UU Church of San Diego blog is your resource for upcoming events and past event recaps. Leave us a comment to let us know what you think!