My turn, Susan Smith: Safety, joy found in volunteering with Rowan Helping Ministries

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 19, 2020

By Susan Smith

Over the past several years, it has been my pleasure to volunteer at Rowan Helping Ministries.

While I have occasionally helped sort clothing and sorted canned goods in the food pantry, most of my volunteer hours have been spent with a group of ladies (sometimes a few of our husbands) packing family food bags with food provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This came to a halt when the shelter-in-place mandate was ordered back in March and April. All of us, being over 60 and some with health issues, stopped volunteering. We are grateful for younger family members and friends who stepped up in our absence and continued helping in this area.

In May, I helped serve an evening meal in Jeannie’s Kitchen with some of my extended family. Measures were in place so there was no contact between servers and clients. Masks were worn by servers and once the plates were served, they were placed on a table more than 6 feet away for clients to pick up one at a time. 

Our group has now resumed packing family food bags. Again, safeguards are in place for volunteers and staff. As a volunteer, we enter with our masks on and our temperature is taken upon entry. We wash our hands, sign in and get to work. The packing stations are at least 6 feet apart, and I don’t think anyone in our group feels uncomfortable being in the facility.

Kyna Grubb has done an amazing job leading this ministry and adjusting to the COVID-19 mandates by providing a clean and safe environment for the staff, clients and volunteers. The staff has worked tirelessly to make sure the needs in our community are met and do so with care and respect for the clients they serve. However, the number of volunteers has drastically decreased during this time while the needs have increased. 

Jeannie’s Kitchen really needs help in preparing and serving meals. Faithful volunteers who helped in the past might now feel uncomfortable due to their age or health concerns. It would be great if others would step up and fill this need. Food is there to be prepared or you can bring food prepared at your home or provide food from a restaurant. It’s easier than you think! Three meals a day are served. So take your pick.

In these times of uncertainty and unrest, it’s been my joy to be able to help some of our most vulnerable citizens by volunteering. I hope you’ll consider it as well.

If you are in good health and have the time, please consider calling Betsy D. Warner at (704) 637-6838 ext. 112 to volunteer, or Monica Seamon at (704) 637-6838, ext. 105 to set up a food packing party with your friends!! It’s a great time to social distance with friends for a great cause!  Your help would be greatly appreciated!

Susan Smith has coordinated her book club’s volunteer efforts at Rowan Helping Ministries for several years. During COVID-19, she has also recruited her husband Hayes and brother-in-law’s family (Kenan and Tracy Smith) to work with her.