Food pantry helps local families in need
On Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., some 35 volunteers rotate working half-day at the Morgan County InterFaith Emergency Care (MCIEC) food pantry that serves local families in need.
Two volunteers work together when the food pantry is open. One takes information from walk-in clients and does the paperwork while the other fills clients’ food requests or both share those duties.
Volunteer Paul Kline said when he and his late wife Mary Kline moved here 24 years ago, they were looking to get involved in something. They both joined the founding organization MCEAT, Inc. (Morgan County Emergency Assistance Team). Paul Kline has been an active volunteer ever since. Mary Kline was an active volunteer for 18 to 20 years.
Paul Kline serves on the board of directors and also does the purchasing and hauling of food items and stocks the pantry. MCEAT handles all of the finances for the organization.
The program’s impact has increased dramatically over the last few years with the economy. Kline said he feels very good about helping someone who is struggling and is really in need.
A valuable service
Kline said that volunteering gives him the opportunity to perform a valuable service for people in the community.
“It presents me with the chance to share with others what God has given me,” Kline said.
Kline said he meets a lot of the volunteers while he’s stocking the pantry. All are on the same page about helping the community.
Volunteer Molly Lilly has been a volunteer for around seven or eight years, along with her husband Bob Lilly, who helps when he can. They are St. Vincent de Paul’s Catholic Church members and decided it was something they wanted to do. Many parishioners help with the program, she said.
They work once a month and see people who come in for groceries. One of the nicest things about volunteering is meeting the people who come in for help, Molly Lilly said.
Lilly thinks the food pantry and the financial assistance is vital to the Berkeley Springs area and county. They see new clients come in all the time. She didn’t know what people would do without the help.
Lilly said from volunteering they’ve made friends with others from different denominations who have the same feelings and concerns about what needs done and how to get it done.
“It’s enjoyable. It’s something I look forward to doing every month,” she said.
Lilly and her husband also help at the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Mealtime Community Kitchen.
Jan Wilkins has been volunteering with the food pantry since around 1998. She got involved when her church, the First United Methodist Church, worked with other churches and community members to unite the efforts to help needy families under one roof, which became the MCIEC umbrella organization.
People come in for food or for financial assistance with utility bills, prescription medications or eviction notices. Volunteers take their driver’s license and family information and give them food amounts based on the numbers in their household, Wilkins said.
The organization has no government funding and depends on the generosity of the churches and individual donors, Wilkins said.
It’s very touching to hear the stories of people who come in for help, she said. Some have lost their jobs, lost their home in a fire, have been unemployed for a while or are in other emergency circumstances. It’s rewarding to help folks that are stuck temporarily.
Wilkins said it’s a great organization and that it’s fun to work with people from different backgrounds.
“It’s a great way to meet other people. There’s a lot of wisdom there,” she noted.
Frank Subasic got involved in helping at the food bank after his wife Pat Subasic joined the organization. They usually work the pantry together.
People in need were going to a variety of programs for help before an ecumenical movement of multi-faith churches formed MCIEC, Frank Subasic said. It’s all staffed completely by volunteers and no one receives any compensation for their work. The program focuses on local people in need, is very organized and is structured to help those that really need help, he noted.
Frank Subasic enjoys that the organization is a coming together of multiple churches and is self-financed by local contributions. Whatever is donated is passed on to recipients.
Subasic, who also has sung with an interfaith choir, felt the dimension of multi-church interaction was beneficial to the community.