The Storehouse has just a handful of staff members, so we rely on volunteers to make our mission possible. Last year, we were blessed with over 1,400 volunteers who dedicated more than 30,000 hours of community service to the Storehouse.
One if these dedicated volunteers is Juanita, an energetic, vivacious volunteer who has been coming to share her time with the Storehouse for over two years. Juanita is known for her warm brown eyes and big heart, and offering a needed hug to our staff or a helping hand whenever it is needed.
When asked why she began volunteering, Juanita says, “I came to food pantries as a client first.” Juanita is no stranger to the struggles of life. She was born in Texas, but she and her eleven siblings grew up in Chicago. Her family was very poor. Her mother supported all of them by working at a laundromat. Her father stayed home and cooked their meals. “He was Mr. Mom,” she says.
Juanita continued to struggle as a young adult and turned to the Storehouse for food, but she got more than that. The experience made her realize that she wanted to give back to the very place that had helped her. “I said to myself, ‘I’m going to be working here pretty soon.’ I like to work with the people, and I like to help them out. So I came and applied, and they said yes I can come in, and I’ve been here since.”
Juanita also saw that the Storehouse feeds people from all walks of life – different cultures, backgrounds, and needs. Her voice gets heavy when she talks about the children, perhaps because she has seen so many go without food and remembers the struggles of her own childhood. “We cannot let kids go hungry,” she says.
Juanita is the kind of volunteer that every organization dreams of. At the Storehouse, she fills in wherever she is needed, ensuring the pantry is well-stocked, the clients are getting what they need, and that no one leaves the food pantry unhappy. The other volunteers look to her as a leader. She helps the staff direct groups of volunteers to their stations, whether it’s helping clients pick out their groceries or working in the warehouse stocking supplies. When asked what she does for fun, Juanita laughs and says, “For fun? I don’t know. This is fun!” Her enthusiasm is contagious. In a matter of minutes, she is able to get all of the volunteers and staff smiling.
Juanita does enjoy crafting in her hours away from the Storehouse. She creates cushions, pillows, yarn octopuses and dolls. She is a self-taught artist and a selfless woman, devoting her time to making sure others have enough food to eat.
On a more serious note, Juanita adds, “I am so glad that they have this place. I say that from the bottom of my heart because there are so many people in great, great need. We just have to keep it going. We have to get donations and we have to keep it going somehow.”
Thank you, Juanita, for your compassion and service.
To find out how you or your group can volunteer at the Storehouse, please visit us at www.TheStorehouseABQ.org.