Updated: Aug 16, 2019
Tuesdays at the Dublin Food Pantry are hectic. During my visit to talk with volunteers, deliveries were arriving while the pantry was open and serving clients. The atmosphere was upbeat as the Set-up, Delivery, Core Kitchen, Client Assistance, Desk Staff, Translators, and In-Pantry teams completed their tasks. The Tuesday group is joined by rotating teams of volunteers from area faith communities - this month's visiting volunteers were from St. Brigid of Kildare. Serving as a Volunteer Team Leader, John “Monty” Montgomery, is a calming presence. He describes his tasks as trouble shooting, filling in at any job when needed, and volunteer training.
John is quick to point out that the Dublin Food Pantry has “a wonderful, caring team of volunteers” and he has happily volunteered at DFP since 2012. The volunteers, in turn, mentioned that “you can tell John was a teacher, principal, and school super in his career, whether training new volunteers or in his motivational speeches before the doors open, he is always pointing out ways that we can learn from others.” John points out, “I tell the volunteers that this is a wonderful opportunity to be a friend and make a friend, with other volunteers and clients alike.” The volunteers agree that talking with and learning from clients is one of the interesting parts of working at a food pantry.
One of John's favorite pantry stories involves an abundance of okra, a vegetable, that according to the Smithsonian Magazine, you might not guess was edible if no one told you because its prickly skin can sting your fingers, and slicing into it reveals little more than seeds and slime. Okra's a beloved staple in other regions, such as the American South, parts of Africa and the Mediterranean. So, while John and other volunteers were pondering the large okra donation, he met a client with the answer.
She was happy to see the okra and after explaining how to prepares meals with it - she could see the volunteers were not convinced that okra could be delicious. The following Tuesday, the client arrived back at the pantry with a large kettle of okra stew and trays of jasmine rice to share with the many volunteers and clients. John said, with a smile, the same client returned this year with another prepared meal for the volunteers.
Tuesday shift volunteers are too many to mention here, but each make a valuable contribution. Pictured above with John, Connor Brack and his cousin Michael King, have volunteered on Tuesdays over the past 7 and 5 summers respectively. You could say that they help with the “heavy lifting” spending this past Tuesday, for example, unloading deliveries from Aldi, Kroger, Whole Foods, Prince of Peace, St. Brigid of Kildare, and St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church.
John and his wife Fran, have a blended family that includes 5 sons and 11 grandchildren. When they aren’t traveling to San Francisco, San Antonio, Chicago, or Atlanta to see them, they both volunteer at DFP on Tuesdays. He also volunteers as a driver to deliver blood for the American Red Cross in Central Ohio. In fact, he was recently featured in the Columbus Dispatch regarding his volunteer service:
~ Patte Widerschein