On the Line

One of our volunteers, Virginia Giblin, reflects on her experience at The Food Pantry on Friday, August 14.

Today I worked outside, where the people line up waiting to be let in. It takes some crowd management skills at certain points, as well as an open mind, friendliness and a good sense of humor. What stood out for me were several non-English-speaking people coming up, gesticulating, waving their drivers’ licenses and demanding…what? Then I realized: these people are 80 years old and are telling me to let them in!
We have a policy that says if you’re over 80 you do not have to stand in line in the sun, wind, rain, or other elements. So once I caught on, they were escorted right in. I marvel at these people coming across town on a Muni bus to load up their bags and then, like pirates laden with booty, climbing back on another bus and carrying everything back to their kitchen larder. People, that booty, especially if it includes a watermelon, is quite a lot to haul across town!
Of course some of the older folks are accompanied by family members. We have one woman who arrives weekly with her daughter-in-law. She is 97 years of age, spry and sharp as a tack. Once she hit my foot with her shopping cart. I barely felt it, as I was wearing my beloved Frye boots. She grasped my wrist to get my attention to apologize to me. Lord, I say, let me be that strong and bright-eyed at 97!
So many times, we don’t see the elderly or those older than us, since “old” really only means “older than me.” We have another woman who must be in her nineties who comes weekly with her daughter. She walks slowly and carefully with a cane, often assisted by one of our volunteers, while the younger woman gathers the groceries. The daughter said to me, “This is her only outing every week. She just loves coming here.” To which I honestly replied, “And we love seeing her.”
Today, we served 890 people. At the end, we put together a substantial bag of groceries for one of our volunteers to take home to his 80 year old mother, who’s fallen ill. I saw that it’s not just about food: it’s about caring and sharing. That’s what we do every week at The Food Pantry.

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