By Nina D., South Bay Pantry Volunteer
The South Bay Food Pantry has grown in many ways since it was founded by Maureen McNair three years ago. The number of clients benefitting from the variety of food items, period products, Covid tests and infant and adult diapers we provide has increased to over 300 families each week. The volunteer contingent has also increased, from a handful of FUUSD-connected individuals to a large group of FUUSD and South-Bay based volunteers active throughout the week.
Nancy Toba-Laba is a long-time FUUSD member who has been with the pantry since its inception in 2019. Present every week for the major food distribution, Nancy exudes warmth, drama, music and playfulness to our distribution community. Setting up for 300 pantry guests can be mentally stressful those early Saturday mornings, and the volunteer group is busy and focused, but being greeted by Nancy inevitably evokes a smile - and a boost of spirit: “DAHLING, where have you BEEN? You look WONDERFUL! DANCE with me, darling!”
Nancy’s portable audio speaker plays everything from hokey bubblegum hits of the 60’s and 70’s to Latin music. When I arrived at the pantry last Saturday, Nancy and several other volunteers pulled me into a veritable salsa dance party right there on the sidewalk. Sometimes her hair is a dramatic new color; on special occasions such as her recent birthday, she wears flowers in it. She and her artistically talented teen granddaughter M., recognized the need for more clear signage to guide new pantry guests and recently created cheerful multilingual signs for our site. Nancy often brings treats for the other volunteers, and it’s not unusual for a group to hang out with her after distribution has ended, just to chat and enjoy each other’s company.
When our on-site distribution volunteer group huddles to discuss operational issues, Nancy’s astute observations and ideas help the pantry develop to better meet the needs of volunteers and guests, alike.
Thank you, Nancy, for all you bring to the pantry community!
If you haven’t yet visited the pantry, come on down and check us out! All ages and abilities welcome!
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