Jim began working at the Dublin Food Pantry as a volunteer along with his family – his wife Ulka and their children Tara and Alec. Late in 2018, Jim was asked by the Board to step in as Interim Director of Operations at a time when both pantry staff members had opted to move on.
According to Lisa Patt McDaniel, a pantry board officer at the time, “Jim’s quick grasp of the operational issues and his professional approach to both volunteers and customers made an immediate positive impact. Jim has been Director of Operations since 2019 and he has been indispensable to the pantry, facing and meeting more challenges than ever anticipated.”
Please join us in wishing Jim Happy 3rd Anniversary!
What a three years it has been…
Every aspect of pantry operations changed due to the pandemic. In a matter of days, Jim led the transformation from the choice (shopping-experience) pantry to a curbside operation for the safety of customers and volunteers. This was accomplished with fewer volunteers even as customers service numbers increased significantly.
Some months, the pantry had a (more than)100% increase in service numbers from the previous year. The pantry continues to see new need and more need amongst our most vulnerable – children, seniors and individuals impacted by unexpected setbacks.
Always looking at the bright side, Jim points out that the operational changes continue to be worth the extra effort to meet the increase in need as safely as possible, noting, "after customer service shifts, as busy as we are, our entire team continues to feel like, 'Hey, we made a real difference today.'"
Recently, Jim received a note thanking the pantry on behalf of a person who was very reluctant to come to the pantry even though “her need was great.”
Jim shared the note in the team meeting before each volunteer shift with this insight:
“We know that overcoming the reluctance or stigma of coming to a food pantry is very real. Thank you to each and every volunteer for making customers feel welcome.”
Jim has a clear perspective on customer needs and their struggles, along with a sincere appreciation for the volunteers and donors who make this work possible.
He is at the pantry for every customer service shift, calmly leading the volunteers. It can be a hectic time with many, “Jim, can you talk to this customer” or “Do we have…” questions.
As Operations Director he faces the same issues challenging all organizations - how to remain safely staffed and finding adequate supplies. He plans for the collection, stocking and storing of items and for the packing and distribution of items. Each week, the MOST NEEDED list (posted on the pantry’s Website) is updated. He organizes the volunteer shifts and is the person to talk to about volunteering at the pantry.
The pantry has a strong leadership team and loyal volunteers - many who have served for well over ten years. The pantry’s Executive Director Denise “Dinky” Youngsteadt-Parrish and Jim work well together to connect people with needed food, essentials, and resources. Both Jim and Dinky are inspired by Dublin Food Pantry's remarkable community support and incredible volunteers.
About Dublin Food Pantry
- Dublin Food Pantry's service area is Dublin School District (9th largest in Ohio, spanning parts of three counties) and the City of Dublin, Ohio (now at 50,000+ residents)
- The Dublin Food Pantry Website is the best place to find complete information
❍ By Patte Widerschein