This month we feature stories from two Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare staff members who share a glimpse of what resonates for them in their work. Our contributors this month are Alecia Andrews and Sarah Santora.
Remembering Timmy Mangan
By Alecia Andrews, Regional Partnerships Coordinator
He always seemed to be smiling whenever I saw him, which was once a year during my annual agency site visits. His name was Tim Mangan (fondly called Timmy), site coordinator for the food pantry at Milford Christian Academy, a day-school ministry of Milford Christian Church (est. 1966). Tim passed away last June, and his gentle manner, ready smile and willingness to do what was needed is sorely missed by all who knew him. “Several weeks before his passing,” said Pastor and Principal of Milford Christian Church and Academy, James Loomer, “Timmy mentioned chest pains to me saying, ‘the doctor says I probably have a blockage that needs attention, but I told him there are too many folks needing help with food right now [during the COVID pandemic] for me to get involved getting medical attention.’ Timmy passed peacefully yet busily ‘about his Father’s business.’”
The memory of Timmy’s smile makes me appreciate the here and now.
It can be such a simple thing really. Smiling, serving and saying, “Hello and you’re welcome.” Take for instance, the season I was unemployed and volunteered at St. Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen in Waterbury, serving breakfast and lunch to men, women and sometimes children. Or when I volunteered at the New Hope Baptist Church mobile pantry in Danbury with my sister. What were the stories of the individuals who waited in either line to get a hot cup of coffee, a freshly cooked meal, or receive bags of produce, dairy items or bread? Who was the one who also lost their job and feared for their future? A smile and my service were all I thought I could give at that moment. But now I see it really meant so much more, and for this I am grateful.
Stalking the Mobile Truck
by Sarah Santora, Community Innovation Manager
A tiny, white-haired lady steps out of her car, holding binoculars. She peers intently at the mobile food truck on the other end of the parking lot, watching the guests step up one by one to get food. The new COVID process seems to be working. Guests are spaced six feet apart; volunteers are packing the “grab and go” bags. Everyone is wearing a face mask. “This may just work,” she thinks, but she calls and tells me later how much she misses talking to her friends in the line and wishes she were there.
COVID has changed many things but not the passion of dedicated volunteers and site coordinators I work with when managing mobile pantries. They care deeply about hunger in their neighborhoods.
The average age of a site coordinator or a mobile volunteer put them at high risk in the pandemic.
Concerned family members and pastors gave their moms and grandmas strict guidance to “Stay home and stay safe!” Many passed the torch to those who were at less risk but continued to show up and watch over distributions from a distance.
The pandemic challenged thousands of households more than ever before, but they did not have to worry that the truck might not come. Unless the lot was buried under a foot of snow, it was there for those who needed it.
It takes a village to support a food bank. Our village ROCKS!