A note from Elizabeth McCarthy, President and CEO of CFBNJ
Recently I spent the morning with Keith Owens, who allowed me to tag along on his driving route and ask a million questions. Many of our partners know Keith, since he has worked at CFBNJ for 13 years!
First Stop: Solid Rock Baptist Church. We got there around 7:30AM, and were told that people had been waiting on line for at least two and a half hours. A small team of volunteers came out to unload the food and were very happy to see so much fruit, milk, and eggs. The pantry manager told me that they try hard to teach people about nutrition and hand out our tip sheets. She said that she herself had followed our diabetes information, lost 40 pounds, and reversed her pre-diabetes through healthy eating. It was easy here to see the impact of our food.
Next stop: Christhouse Food and Clothing Center. Here we found one of the challenges that drivers face as they meet with volunteer-run pantries: only one person was there to receive the pallets of food. By this point in our route, it was raining fairly hard. Keith brought as many pallets as would fit inside, but had to start stacking boxes outside too. Luckily, the Pantry Manager had made a few calls and got some volunteers to come help. Christhouse Food and Clothing Center provides clothing, job assistance, and education about benefits. The food and education CFBNJ offers allow them to provide their neighbors with the help they need.
Last stop: Amazon Fresh. I should say it was the last stop for me, because Keith’s day was not done. He was going to have another stop after he brought the Amazon donation back to our warehouse. The person in charge of our donation was pretty new. Keith made a point of encouraging her, since she had just learned to use the pallet jack in the last week or so since he first met her. A manager from Amazon approached me and asked what we do with the food. I explained the extraordinary work of CFBNJ and he was really proud that they were a part of it. They felt that bringing assistance to others was an important part of giving them hope.
It was a very educational day for me. Seeing Keith breeze through with a smile on his face providing food, help, and hope all along the way was an inspiration.
The title we give to Keith and his colleagues is “Driver.” While that is true, in reality they are so much more. For many, they are the face of CFBNJ. They take time to understand the unique needs of each partner. They do so much for so many.
So, thank you to all our drivers! And special thanks to Keith for his time, energy, and patience during our drive.
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