Coleen, one of our regular volunteers, prepares the food pantry for members by stacking the shelves.

Coleen, one of our regular volunteers, prepares the food pantry for members by stacking the shelves.

Coleen first came to The Samaritan Community in 2013 to simply make a donation. Fast forward three years later and today, she is one of our regular and most dedicated food pantry volunteers. 

"It all started when a friend asked me to substitute for her as a pantry volunteer when she was on vacation. She trained me and I started covering shifts for her and other volunteers as needed," recalls Coleen. "As the pantry schedule expanded, I became a regular."

When she is working in the pantry, her job is anything but simple. She assesses and organizes food received from Whole Foods Market, Giant Supermarket, and the items purchased through the Maryland Food Bank. Then, before she even starts filling the bags, Coleen talks with each member to determine his or her individual needs and preferences. She then works to match those needs and requests with what food is available on that particular day. 

"During my very first days of volunteering, I learned how important it is to take time and genuinely listen," she explains. "There was a young man who had lost his job and was living  with his wife, toddler, and infant in a motel room with no kitchen, other than a microwave and a hot plate. I had to really think about what to put in his bag. This taught me to take time with each member to learn about their circumstances, no matter how swamped I am or how far behind I get."

While Coleen has helped countless people through her volunteerism at Samaritan Community, she says she is the one who receives the biggest benefit. 

"At Samaritan, there is an atmosphere of acceptance of who you are...and this inspires a positive view. Many days, I stay late to chat and exchange experiences with folks who make Samaritan a community," Coleen says. "I feel that I gain as much as I give. To quote a Beatles song, 'And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.'

To learn more about volunteering at Samaritan Community, visit our Volunteering page or call 443-438-9286.