Our thriving South Bay Food Pantry recently went through a major transition. While church activities were solely virtual during the first years of the pandemic, we were fortunate to be able to use two large FUUSD South Bay campus suites to store the dry goods, bread, meat and period products we distribute to the local community every Saturday morning, as well as diapers on Sunday mornings. With the upcoming re-opening of the South Bay campus, we needed to relocate to suite 105, a smaller space than either of the ones we’d been using. Having grown to accommodate some 300 households seeking food each week, how could we adapt our operations to work from this smaller space? And how could we make that move quickly, so that the South Bay worship and social spaces could be restored for in-person use ASAP?
Enter Force of Nature relocation team leader Valerie Jaques, her hard-working and knowledgeable daughter Penny and friend Rusty, Deirdre Lonergan, Jeff Kline, Vanessa Pool, Sara Ferguson, Adrienne Kaplan and husband Matthew, Rhea and Armin Kuhlman, Peggy and John Holl, Isabella Furth, Sophia and Andres Lopez-Zimmer, Dan Ratelle, pantry volunteer Christina Willis, and Leo Casas (property manager and pantry champion). Maureen McNair provided remote instruction and support while on vacation.
Deirdre and Sophia did the essential work of planning and organizing the move, and Bella and Sara enhanced our team communication by setting up Google Drive and Slack. It took five long days of heavy work to pull up the old carpet (helped by plumber Damon from Pride Plumbing after he installed the new hot water heater), remove glue from the concrete slab (Valerie operated a heavy stripping machine for hours as Sara and the rest of us swept mountains of dust behind her), install a new vinyl floor (which Jeff caulked to ensure there were no trip hazards while Adrienne cut edge tiles and installed baseboards), and transfer the freezers and pantry goods. Rhea and Armin and Matt carried and stored pallets, the Holls ensured that diaper distribution went on as usual despite the chaos, and Vanessa stacked endless boxes and pitched in wherever extra hands were needed. On Monday, we were even joined by a group of six traveling UU’s from Virginia, who heard about our work and showed up to help carry boxes into the new space!
While this Saturday’s food distribution will be our first from suite 105, all involved are confident that we will continue to meet the needs of our guests.
Valerie Jaques provides this perspective on our moving process:
“Three cheers for the pantry team! To paraphrase my father, the best team of volunteer workers money can’t buy. When I was tasked with preparing Suite 105 and moving the pantry operation in, I knew it was going to be a mighty task. I even knew I’d have plenty of help to get it done.
What I did not know was just how committed, gritty, and determined the group of people who answered the call would be.
I can’t thank everyone individually, but a few stood out. Penny Jaques was available to hop in my truck and perform whatever tasks I threw her way, whenever I asked. Nina and Jeff were there every step of the way, ever present and reliable as clockwork. Adrienne did a great job finishing the tile work, after minimal instruction on my part. And, she handled the angle grinder to finish getting up carpet glue most excellently (she did not damage any tile with it, unlike me, who definitely did damage tile.)
The task felt insurmountable when we started. By the time we were finished, we looked at one another and wondered why we thought that would be so hard”.
New volunteers are always welcome to join us, on site or remote, Saturdays or weekdays, day or night. Please contact Deirdre for more info: firstname.lastname@example.org or 619-261-8484 (phone calls may not be returned until evening!).
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