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Pantry MANpower (a Father's Day Salute)

(By Tedi Mae Tortolano)

The volunteer crews in the kitchen are predominately women, but men serve throughout the Pantry as well. We recognize these men (and highlight some of them) as our Father's Day article.

Starting at the beginning, Clem Matzen in 1985 took the initiative to visit the various churches and temples in the community to establish an interfaith, community-supported coalition, transforming the Pantry from a closet at POP into the organization it is today.

Roman Melynck
On Senior Wednesday, a steadfast crew join Margaret Shively at her usual place behind the distribution table setting up and taking down the distribution area (come rain or shine). Among them are Jerry Murphey, Harry Seidman, and John Willauer. Roman Melynck directs traffic coming into and out of the parking lot. Paul Sylvester, a Food Pantry volunteer since its inception, assists at Food Drives and has been a food "picker upper".

Jerry Murphey, father of two sons (now 32 and 34 years old), has been a regular volunteer at the Food Pantry since 2004, stocking shelves and assisting on Senior Wednesdays until back surgery a few years ago interrupted his activity. His pantry involvement is due to his wife of 36 years, Theresa, who volunteered on Food Pantry shifts for eleven years before he became involved.

"She was the one that helped me get started. I'm back at the senior program and happy to be there", Jerry says. "Being there... makes me think about how lucky I am to be on the giving side of the line". For 30 years, Jerry worked in rock 'n roll production. After tour dates were set up, he would book hotels, the air and ground transportation, and then make an itinerary that detailed the daily schedule. Following this he would travel to the next cities on the tour "to personally arrange all the details. I was lucky to work with some great artists in the business: Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, and Barbra Streisand are the big names I worked with."

Other men who volunteer rely less on physical strength than on intellectual acuity and determined commitment. Harry Seidman

These Food Pantry "techies" check-in each Pantry client who comes in for food. Working AM and PM shifts, keeping tabs on the computer are John Demmitt, Richard Karp, Natt Narhthong, and Paul Rosenbaum. Shift Volunteers dispensing food are Bruce Lerner, Ed Savitz, Greg Shelton and Ed Combs (who also volunteers at the computer).

Publishing the Pantry Paper, newsletters, and our West Valley Food Pantry website also requires computer technology. We take this opportunity to acknowledge that these resources are provided by Tim Abad, John Demmitt, and Hank Suzukawa.

Tim Abad worked as office manager of St. Luke's Lutheran Church for eight years. While working there he learned to design online newsletters with help from Pastor Bernt Hillesland who had originally designed the church's website. Church liaison Randy Kistler introduced Tim to the Pantry, and he is currently volunteering as Pantry Paper publisher.

Tim earned two Associates Degrees from Pierce College: one for Social and Behavioral Studies and another for Science/Technology/Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.). Tim will be attending California State University Northridge in the fall and is a Computer Information Technology major. Tim is also a certified computer technician and holds both A+ and Network+ certifications.

Nearly 4,000 years ago a Babylonian youth carved the first known Father's Day card in clay wishing his father good health and a long life. Today we thank the men who help make the Pantry function. Father's Day this year happens to be Chris Smith, the Sexton at Prince of Peace Church, birthday. Happy birthday, Chris!

May 12, 2018 - Postal Food Drive

(By Ruth Denburg Yoshiwara)

The shelves and warehouses of the West Valley Food Pantry are full to the brim because we just benefited from the largest one-day food drive in the nation: the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Stamp Out Hunger National Food Drive. Occurring on the second Saturday in May every year for the past 25 years (this year on May 12), the drive has delivered more than one billion pounds of food over that time. The drive is led by letter carriers represented by the National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL-CIO), aided by rural letter carriers, other postal employees and volunteers. Mail carriers collect non-perishable food donations left by mailboxes and in post offices, and deliver them to local community food banks, pantries and shelters.

Post office branches in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands participate. Our own benefactor was the Woodland Hills Post Office branch (zipcode 91367), located at the former Macy's furniture center at the Topanga Promenade. They delivered 981 bags of groceries from 3:30 until 8:00 p.m., and we continued to pick up for food from them for the following TWO WEEKS! We estimate that we received almost 1,200 boxes of food.

On our end, Julianne Sorice recruited 292 volunteers to help with the unloading, sorting and storing of the deliveries. We shared our haul with the Family Rescue Center (RESCATE).

The Postal Drive is one of our two biggest projects of the year, the other coming in November, right before Thanksgiving. In between, we rely on smaller donations from people and businesses, and purchase food when donations are not enough. With help from the community, and all of you WVFP volunteers, we happily pass on the bounty so that no one goes hungry.

Pantry Volunteers - the National Charity League

(By Tedi Mae Tortolano)

As defined on the National Charity League website

The National Charity League, Inc. (NCL) is a non-profit national organization that is committed to the development of mothers and daughters as leaders and is dedicated to improving local communities through hands on volunteerism. The NCL experience inspires and empowers women to succeed as confident well-rounded and socially aware contributors to society.

Our San Fernando chapter of NCL, lead by current President Christine Ross, continues these endeavors with its affiliation with the West Valley Food Pantry. The NCL began its support in 1987 with major financial funding of food and goods, various fund-raising programs, and the active participation of member volunteerism in all these projects. The funds raised through The NCL Charity Ball enable them to give the Pantry a large amount of financial support each year for the food and homeless program through the grant request process.

If you are a West Valley Food Pantry volunteer who works morning or afternoon shifts waiting on clients, you may have worked alongside teams of National Charity League mothers and daughters (seventh grade and above). These NCL teams are most evident during the holiday seasons, when the Food Pantry is busiest and the students are on school breaks. By extending their knowledge above and beyond the practices of social graces, these NCL mother-daughter leadership training programs in community service give the girls life lessons and first-hand experience in the responsibilities of organizing, making arrangements, collecting toys and gift card donations, and setting up for their much-anticipated annual holiday toy drive and "back-to-school" backpack drives. "It is an impactful connection, especially when they speak to the clients and realize how warm, friendly and grateful they are to be receiving assistance" observes Tiffany Takac, VP of Philanthropy.

Terri Zaelke, mother of two daughters that went through the NCL program (Lauren Elizabeth Stengel, 30 years old, married last year, and Caroline Helene, 18 years old, graduating this year from Sierra Canyon) reflects: "Years ago, before the Toy Drive existed, families used to be given one gift for each child (if available) when they came for food in December. As was common, by Christmas Eve we were completely out of toys for boy teens. My daughter called her father to run to her room and get all of her Christmas money, then race to Target and use all to buy boy teen gifts. I've never forgotten her act of generosity, one she learned on her own by the love she developed for supporting the Pantry."

Joanne Norris, mother of Jordan (eight grade) says: "We see the need this fills in the community. In many conversations we have had with the clients they are truly grateful for what the pantry gives them; they wouldn't know how to manage without the assistance of the Pantry."

Samantha and Julie Nadler

Another NCL team: Samantha and Julie Nadler

The West Valley Food Pantry is grateful to all the many NCL mother-daughter teams devoting time in volunteering at the Food Pantry. Allison Gordon, the current WVFP Shift Scheduler (a daunting task) recognized the NCL shift teams that served most frequently during the past year. The mentioned teams were Kristi and Maya Bala, Jennifer and Madison Clark, Edith and Saree Leifer, Nikki and Kate Mead, Joanne and Jordan Norris, Julie and Samantha Nadler, and Bonnie and Petra Stoilkovich. Thank you, to these and all the other teams who help so much!