by Ruth Denburg-Yoshiwara
by Tedi Mae Tortolano
by Debbie Decker
by Barbara Partridge
by Jean Buesing
by Allison Gordon
by Roya Muniz
saddened by the sudden passing of volunteer Ray Wagner on November
18th. Ray volunteered at the pantry for over a decade, working in
the warehouse, stocking shelves, or wherever he was needed. There
will be a memorial service for all who wish to help celebrate his
contribution to all our lives:
will be in the Sanctuary, followed by a reception at Harter Hall.
by Ruth Denburg Yoshiwara
Valley Food Pantry gives to others all year long, but every December
it outdoes itself with the Holiday Toy Drive. Hundreds of toys are
solicited, donated, purchased and then given away at a festive, hours
long event in mid-December. Families that have registered with their
children as clients of WVFP get priority in picking gifts, but the
Giveaway is open to the general public after all our clients have
tradition started small in scope many years ago with a few volunteers
asking WVFP coalition members to donate toys for the children that
frequented the Pantry with their parents. For WVFP frequent partner
National Charity League (NCL), this occasion became the perfect
opportunity to give their members service hours and to tap their own extensive
and generous donor base. Working together, WVFP and NCL expanded the
Giveaway until it became the huge event it is today. Last year over
300 gifts were given away!
Choosing Toys for their Kids
On the day
of the Giveaway, on a first come first serve basis, adult clients,
without the children, are escorted into the gift salon, where NCL
volunteers have set up eye catching holiday displays of unwrapped
gifts, grouped according to age appropriateness. After choosing a
gift for each registered child, the parents may have NCL volunteers
wrap each present after they exit.
waiting, the children are entertained with arts and crafts, hot
chocolate and cookies, and sometimes a visit from Santa. The wait can
be long, as the line can snake down the block. A few families have
even camped out the night before! Pantry volunteers help with logging
people in at the computers and keeping order in the courtyard. (Look
for sign up sheets during your pantry shift.)
the Toy Giveaway will be held on Saturday, December 16th from 9:00
a.m. until noon in the courtyard at Prince of Peace Church. Currently
registered clients with children already listed as dependents will
receive a priority pass on their regular monthly Pantry visit between
November 6th and December 8th, entitling them to be included in the
first group to enter and choose gifts. Clients without children
currently registered can add the children on their Pantry regular
visit through December 8th, and new clients can also register with
their children until then. This second group will get their passes on
the day of the Giveaway. Non-Pantry clients are welcome and will be
the last group to select gifts.
This is an
opportunity for our clients and their children to participate in
joyful gift giving and receiving that might not have otherwise been
possible. Volunteers share in the excitement by donating and
soliciting gifts and signing up to work the day of the event. Be a
part of this celebratory season – donate and volunteer! Cheers!
by Tedi Mae Tortolano
sage with wit and wisdom once said, “You only get one chance to make
a good first impression.” Such was the case a few years ago when I
met Tamara Rowland and Mike Schwartz, West Valley Food Pantry pickup
early in the morning at the back lot of Trader Joe’s Market when I
was making the usual pickup of “write off “goods for the Food Pantry.
In previous years most of the merchandise would be piled into huge
plastic bags and placed in shopping carts for pickup by WVFP
volunteers. Those heavily loaded bags had to be lifted into the trunk
and crammed into my ’96 Chrysler sedan. Times change and plastic bags
became “no no” news. Now the merchandise was being stacked in bulky
banana boxes that usurped valuable car space. Enter these two ready,
willing and (somewhat younger) able souls with their roomy SUVs (and
smiling faces) assigned to assist me in this physically demanding
task. So efficient were they, that not too long thereafter my
participation became irrelevant–so I retired from the the picker
upper group of hard working WVFP volunteers to take on the role of
the writer of letters of acknowledgement to WVFP goods donors–a less
physical task, and more apropos for an octogenarian.
supervision of the indefatigable Les Carney, the shelves of the WVFP
are kept stocked with canned and boxed groceries, baked good, meat
and dairy products, etc. that are picked up from local stores by a
team of drivers that includes Bob Eisenberg, Sonny Goldstein, Jeff Haller,
Hossein Kahlayi, Al Mael, Tamara Rowland, Boris and Amy Savic, Mike
Schwartz, Terri Seidman, Donna and Ed Shuster, Nancy Warren, Joe
Weber and Frankie. Their diligent daily pickups helps ensure that the
WVFP food supply is maintained as a ready resource when needed by our
clients, thus helping to fulfill the Pantry’s dedicated mission that
“no one goes away hungry.
a warm, appreciative salute to all of these drivers, and a “getting
to know you” opportunity to meet two of them.
Calendar of Events
POP Parking Lot
POP Family Center
Pantry Closed for
Happy Holidays Everyone!
Happy New Year!
and efficient like a Swiss watch, Tamara Rowland, born in Buffalo,
New York, is a “child of the Northeast”, and a retired international
banker. She holds a BA in Political Economy and Art History from
Williams College, and an MA from Fletcher School of Law and
Diplomacy. She started learning French in the first grad. “I suppose
that lucky beginning catapulted me into a career where I lived and
worked in the French speaking countries in North and West Africa. My
husband’s work, also in finance, took us to Japan, where we had the
good fortune to live for five years. Our son Alex was born there.
(Sad to say my Japanese is not on a part with my French) Those who
know me well know that I love to cook. It breaks my heart that so
much food is wasted in this country. I’m happy that Trader Joe’s
donates so generously to the Food Pantry, and I’m proud that my
little old Prius can hold 15 of their boxes and haul them every
Thursday to be given to those in need.”
wit and nimble of foot, driver Mike Schwartz, a local Woodland Hills
resident, at 76 years of age is slim and trim, and an avid
racquetball player who enjoys family activities with this “two
children, four grand kids and five grand dogs.” Retiring four years
ago from a career in the landscape and irrigation industry in the
manufacturing of lawn care products, he originally started in the
sales and marketing area, then went on to become Executive Vice
President of two companies. He is currently enrolled in a Political
Science class in the Pierce College Encore Program, and has been
married for 55 years to his wife Andrea, who is a weekly volunteer at
the Pantry, proudly serving for nearly five years. “We are both
fortunate to be able to be in a position to give back to the
community and find the West Valley Food Pantry an excellent
opportunity to do so.”
Breathtaking Generosity and
and December are amazing months at the Pantry – we give food to
around 3,000 people a month and try to connect them with social
services to help them to a more secure life. Many of the life stories
of our clients are heartbreaking. There are days that are so
overwhelming that we wonder why we continue to do this but. BUT –
then SOMETHING HAPPENS and we get to witness amazing transformations.
And that SOMETHING HAPPENED LAST WEDNESDAY and gives reason to why we
do what we do.
this past month we’ve had numbers of individuals, schools and
businesses that have had food drives, contributing thousands of
pounds of food. Our annual Fundraising Campaign is also in full swing
so we’re receiving cash donations that will help us feed our clients
the other 11 months of the year. Last TUESDAY, one of our many
donors, a Sikh gentleman, quietly walked into the chaos of the Pantry
and waited for a volunteer to become available. He handed over a
check, asked that it be directed to the appropriate person (me),
nodded his head and left. But this year his usually sizable check was
five times his usual donation. In my four years working this job, I
have never met this man! Frustrating, huh??!
THEN…..he came back again on Wednesday – the day before Thanksgiving.
The Pantry Supervisor, Roya Muniz, came running into my office,
grabbed me me by the wrist yelling: “He’s back!” The two of us went
running back to the Pantry (and please know, this body doesn’t “run”
anymore!). When we got back up the hill, he was already in his
Roll-Royce….yeah, he’s got a Rolls….but there he was in this
magnificent car, wearing a suit and a turban with a jewel in the
center. We immediately expressed our thanks for the generous check
he’d given us the prior day. He looked embarrassed at our profuse
thanks. Finally, he looked up at us and humbly said: “This country
has been very good to me and my God even more so. I’m called to
remember Him daily. This is a small piece of my giving back”. He
rolled up the window and drove away. It wasn’t until he’d left that
we discovered the reason for his second trip in two days.
to 20 Pantry clients were lined up on the benches waiting their turn
for food, but all had stunned looks. Some had soft smiles and one
woman had tears rolling down her cheeks. Then we hear: Our donor had
returned with a roll of $50 bills. Every adult in the line received
one. Each client shared with us what they were going to do with that
gift: A senior was going to refill his prescription. A homeless man
had enough to get a hotel room for Thanksgiving and would sleep in a
real bed that night. The mother that had tears on her cheeks said
she’d now be able to give her three children “a real Thanksgiving
meal” that would last for a week. (We had run out of turkeys the day
before.) Wonder, excitement, gratitude. Every single one of them
wanted to know who he was and how they could thank him.
is what selfless giving does and why we soldier on day after day,
giving out food, compassion, and hope. At this time of gratitude
and joy, please take a moment to recognize how fortunate we are.
Personally, I give THANKS for all of you!
Executive Director & C.O.O.
Computer Volunteer Needed
We’re looking for someone
to help record the client visits once a week in the office (not in
the Pantry). It requires a detail-oriented person who is already
very comfortable using a Windows computer. You would be trained to
record visits, input new clients, formulate visit notes, and watch
for problems. Time commitment is 2 to 3 hours every Thursday (but
could move to Wednesday later if desired.) If interested, please
email Linda Worland.
The Paper Needs You!
Looking for people who
would love to work on our Pantry Paper! We need people for
formatting and layout, graphic design, and content creation (photos
and articles). Soooo…share your special talents: We need you!
Contact Helene Fernandez.
Remember: Get your
schedule request for January in by December 15th!
Who's in the Garden?
COMMUNITY GARDEN here at POP is alive and producing despite 100
degree heat and sprinkler problems. Our mission is to provide fresh
produce to the West Valley Food Pantry clients. We have provided
hundreds of heads of lettuce, carrots and delicious tomatoes this
past year. This requires a lot of work but the smiles on the clients’
faces makes it all worthwhile. Lynn Gilson and Elizabeth Bates have
been weeding so the garden looked wonderful for Bishop Bruce’s visit.
She really liked it! Her husband is an expert gardener. We have
planted lettuce, beets, carrots, cauliflower, and peppers. We will be
planting snap peas, swiss chard and much more.
greatly needed for harvesting and upkeep. If you have a few hours one
day a week, we would greatly appreciate your help. Harvesting is
usually done on Mondays and Wednesdays, but work can be done on other
contact me: Barbara Partridge for more information.
Food Bank Cookbook is in progress to help people use the produce in a
healthy way. Recipes will be welcomed.
our happy group!
Pantry Training Report
Buesing notes that the Pantry welcomes nine new volunteers who
trained in October & November:
Lisa Radist trained by Barbara Krauss
Masoud Nabavi trained by Antje Brunner
Mary Flacco trained by Diana Plotkin
Meghan Slaninko trained by Claire Martin Park
Andi Manpearl trained by Roslyn Miller
Jaci Rahdar and Jack Scissors trained by Liz
Joanne Adamson and Jill Harris trained by Andi
From Your Pantry Scheduler
hopefully going to be trying out our new Scheduling Program for
February and that we be ready for you to go use it soon to request
your dates. Hank and I are still trying to work it out, and I will be
sending instructions to you when we are ready. I am really excited
about our new program but I think it will take a few months to work
out the kinks. More news about this will be coming soon.
meantime, I hope you all had a super Happy Thanksgiving and
appreciate how blessed we all are by being surrounded by family and
friends and having (a lot of) food on our tables.
Roya Muniz, Pantry
2,406 Households in the month of October.
special thanks to Jeff Rudner and David Goldberg for organizing and
all the Boy Scout troops for their participation in the Annual
Calabasas Boy Scouts Food Drive, along with the following volunteers
for their help: Susan Rund, Betty Allen, Jamie Dimarco, Sonia Iran,
Ruth Denburg Yoshiwara, Terri Seidman, Harry Seidman, Antje Brunner,
and Joyce Simmons.
as well to the students of our local Elementary and Middle Schools
for their food drives which also provided us with a generous amount
three new Pantry Volunteers: Sonia Iran, Masoud Nabavi, and Frank
gratefully acknowledge the generous contribution of Allison Gordon
for purchasing and preparing the bottles of shampoo and body wash for
the homeless weekly mobile showers. Thanks and blessings to you.