My Grail Work in the World
One of the many things that attracted me to the Grail was the call to care for the oppressed and to give a voice to the voiceless.
Over 20 years ago I began volunteering at L.I.F.E. Food Pantry (Loveland Inter Faith Effort) lifefoodpantry.org here in Loveland, OH. Fortunately for me the food pantry and Grailville are both a mere 10-minute commute from my home. I’d found my place!
What drew me to the pantry work was the realization that here in Loveland, an affluent community in southwest Ohio, there are hidden pockets of our town that house people who are less fortunate and in great need. These subsidized and low rent apartment complexes house hundreds of families that are far below the poverty level and are struggling day in and day out to put food on their tables, maintain a roof over their heads and provide education for their children. How is this possible in our community?
Like in so many other small towns, the poor go unnoticed. Some of these people are the ones who check you out at the grocery store or bring you your food at your favorite local restaurant, often without you realizing that these ARE the working poor. Many don’t know how they will pay for their own groceries or this month’s rent.
In the 20+ years I’ve volunteered at the pantry I’ve filled grocery bags; organized food drives and date checked more cans than you can imagine. Currently I am honored to serve as LIFE Board President. As my role has changed so have the needs of our community. Just since 2021 we have tripled the number of families we serve. The need continues to grow as do the challenges of managing donations and keeping up with our food budget. The balance of keeping our doors open while serving hundreds of clients is, at times, a challenge.
Loveland, OH is a very generous community. When COVID hit many regional pantries had to close their doors. Due to the outpouring of community support we, on the other hand, were able to move to a new, larger location and expand our services. The exposure has been a big boost for our community support. Local groceries and a couple of big box stores have taken us under their wings, and they donate thousands of pounds of food each week. This has allowed us to serve clients twice a month with fresh produce and flash frozen meats. With the larger space our clients can now shop for themselves, this is called a “Choice “Pantry” versus them being handed a generic bag of food.
With the additional monetary donations, we have been able to expand and offer more than just food. We now offer financial assistance for rent, utilities, car repairs and more. We also run a Weekend Backpack program for the Loveland schools. After recently purchasing a van, we can now offer transportation to those unable to get themselves to the pantry and a Pantry Pal program for those homebound – this program matches a client with a personal shopper who does their shopping and delivers it to them twice a month. The relationships that develop between the clients and their “Pal” are very touching.
Our biggest thrill was establishing a LIFE Food Pantry Scholarship Fund for clients wanting to continue their education. Our first recipient was a single parent of two, one of which is profoundly disabled. She has returned to school and is finishing her nursing degree. She has been on the Dean’s list every term since getting back to school. So proud of her! The scholarship program is meant to help clients achieve degrees and certificates which will allow them opportunities for better employment and a better future for their families.
So, how does my work Grail work transfer to my work at LIFE Food Pantry?
The Grail Mission includes challenging economic systems that put at risk the most vulnerable, especially women and children .
LIFE’s Food Pantry Mission Statement: LIFE is a faith and community supported organization that provides food, financial assistance, and programs to those experiencing hardship.
LIFE’s Vision: To end hunger and hardship in our community.
And lastly – LIFE’s VALUES: Compassion, respect, and integrity
We at LIFE Food Pantry are challenging the systems that are in place. We are supporting the most vulnerable, especially women and children, along with the elderly who are often forgotten.
THIS is my work. My Grail work, my community work, and my soul work. It feeds my heart as I see real change in our clients’ lives and the lives of their children. I am honored to be able to continue this work into the future.
I humbly submit this as testament of my Grail work in the world. I look forward to hearing other Grail women’s stories.