Meet Barbara Pitner. We call her Barb.
Barbara is a retired occupational therapist. She worked for many years with veterans and helped them rehab and get their lives back on track.
I cannot even begin to fathom where we would be without her help. She, for many months, was the rock that held things in place for our warehouse.
Last summer was brutal at Just Food. The warehouse was hot. It hovered around 140 degrees most days. We tried to get Gator Cool fans, contemplated window units, and spent lots of time on the phone trying to figure out how to get the warehouse cooler. Barb was there through it all. She was volunteering 3-4 days a week. Then, we had some transition in the latter part of the summer last year with volunteers and staffing.
We found ourselves without a warehouse manager, and a go to person to make sure that things happened. Barb quietly told us in a meeting that she would volunteer everyday. And she did. She got there before 8, and didn't leave until after 5 most days. What I was certain couldn't be done by one person was. She was a rockstar last summer. We couldn't have made it through that month and a half without her.
Barb could be doing anything with her time. But she's here. Nearly everyday. When we have gaps, and she manages to hear about them (we try not to tell her so she doesn't show up here on her days off), she shows up.
But, the most special moment that I think I've observed with Barb is last Christmas. Her kids were coming into town from both out of state & out of the country. She started volunteering the Wednesday before Christmas at 7am. One daughters flight got in that night around 7 and then the other daughter around 11. Barb left the food bank from a full day of volunteering at 6, picked up daughter up from the airport, and then brought her daughter to Just Food. They both volunteered until we closed, after 9pm.
In that time, her daughter just raved about how much Barb talked about how much she loved this place. Barb had been telling her daughter all of these wonderful stories about all of these great people that volunteered at Just Food. I was proud that night. I can't say that I was a proud papa, because Barb is a few years older than I am...but I was so pleased to see that our volunteers care enough about this place that we consider family to share this family with their family. It was quite a humbling experience.
Barb's faithful, reliable, and loves to help people. When asked why she continues to come here as much as she does, she says that she loves to do it and that she cares about making sure people have food.
Barbara's one of my heroes, too.
If you would like to become a part of the Just Food volunteer family, click here.
By the way, I would encourage you to come by at some point and meet some of these folks who make a difference in the lives of thousands of people each month. Come say thank you. They richly deserve it!