Talking With Our Volunteers ~ Summer 2011

Volunteer Stuart Christie

As many as sixty volunteers run The Food Pantry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. Most are people who came to get food and stayed to help out; some are neighbors, and some are first-time visitors. Every one of them has a story, and together they create a living, growing community. This issue’s interview with hardworking volunteer Stuart Christie is by Karen Eckersley.

Ten years ago, I had a brain aneurysm: I spent almost two months in emergency care, and my legs atrophied. I couldn’t walk until I got some of the first Botox treatments (not on my face!) And my disability meant I couldn’t work again.

A friend brought me to services at St. Gregory’s, and there was a notice asking people to come and help with their food pantry. I met Sara, the founder of The Food Pantry, and here I am.

What keeps me coming back is the camaraderie we have with the customers. Everyone greets me, and smiles, and is happy to be here. I speak enough Chinese to say hello, how are you, and the name of almost all the foods we have, and I’ve also learned some Russian. The woman who taught me how to say ‘Hello!’ in Chinese just came up to me today with a high-five and a big smile, and that makes me feel really great. I know some Spanish also, and also Italian and French. But I don’t get to use the French very much.

I take the food that I get from the pantry every week and cook a meal for my community at the board-and- care home where I live. I enjoy cooking, but really I am my own worst critic. Fortunately, everyone eats what I prepare. What I really enjoy is when we sit down and eat lunch together here at The Food Pantry every Friday. It’s always a pleasant surprise and tasty, and a way to catch up with everyone’s life.

You know, at the time it was hard to see that something nice might come from an aneurysm, but I guess this is it.

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