Cathy has been a loyal volunteer at our Messiah Senior Pantry for about 20 years now, ever since the pantry opened to the public. Cathy helps with just about everything, from stocking the product, helping clients shop, and bagging up their groceries. Her favorite of those tasks is being able to greet the clients and make them feel welcome by helping out and giving them a smile.
Cathy was originally born in Indianapolis but has lived in Grand Rapids for over 60 years now. Her daughter, Robin, is a professor at Grand Valley State University and she has two daughters in the 7th and 11th grade, whom Cathy gets to see very often to spend time with. Before she retired, Cathy worked at Saint Mary’s Hospital and then worked at Grand Rapids Public Schools for over 30 years! She was a Para-pro for kindergarten through 6th grade, but she also worked at the office as a secretary, volunteered with their lunch program and a lot of other odd jobs, she was a jack of all trades, she says, at GRPS. On top of that, Cathy also worked part-time at Van Andel Arena in Customer Service for 26 years. She stays busy now after retiring by volunteering whenever and wherever she can. Along with volunteering at the Messiah Pantry, she volunteers at her grandkids school, donating her years of expertise to their lunch program, and she helps out at the Messiah Baptist Church where she has been a member since 1972.
When asked why she volunteers, Cathy says, “I love people, and I love to help people, I am always looking for something to do and working hard is in my family, we were all hard workers.” She shared with me that her sister worked for 55 years before retiring and her father worked until he was 95 years old and Cathy definitely has that same work ethic as her family. She also loves to travel and enjoys meeting people wherever she goes. She shared a potent piece of advice with me, “anytime you can get a trip somewhere or go on any sort of trip, go. No matter where it is, just go.”
It is clear that Cathy is loved and appreciated by each person that she volunteers or interacts with wherever she goes and that includes Cheryl LaMar, the Pantry Assistant Coordinator. Cheryl says, “I have known Cathy for over 40 years. She has always been a very hard working, caring individual. She is so easy to work with. Cathy loves her faith, her daughter and grandchildren. She is always spending time with them when she is not volunteering. Cathy has worked at the Messiah Pantry for a long time, back when my mother ran it over 20 years ago. To this day, she is the same caring, loving, hardworking person I know. She is a joy and a blessing… and a true friend!”
We are so thankful for Cathy’s commitment to our program and so grateful to have her as a part of our team. We appreciate her, and others like her who give so generously of their time to reach homebound seniors in our community. Thank you, Cathy!