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Every week, without fail, they show up to serve at the 30th Street Food Pantry. They’ve been doing it for the past 6-7 years. They’re part of a group from St. Mark that has faithfully served for more than double that time. What’s ironic is that neither Bonny Temple nor Janet Whitehouse go to St. Mark. Actually, neither is Catholic. But they love coming to SVdP and serving as the hands and feet of Christ. And all it took was a simple invitation.

Bonny’s neighbors, Dave and Barb Sweeney, asked her to volunteer at SVdP’s food pantry with them and their group from St. Mark.

“I had just retired, and my neighbor knew I wanted to volunteer, so her invite was perfect timing,” Bonny recalls. “From the start, all the other volunteers were so welcoming and friendly.”

And because a good thing shouldn’t be kept to ourselves, Bonny invited Janet to join her.

“I came because Bonny asked me. She kept telling me about the nice people she’d met,” says Janet. “She was right—it’s the people, the other volunteers, that make it such an enjoyable volunteer activity.”

Bonny and Janet soon became “regulars,” and SVdP became as important to them as it was to their new friends from St. Mark. And new bonds quickly formed.

“Everyone gets along really well—we joke around and have even been known to sing together while working. We went out for monthly lunches before COVID and we’re started doing that again,” Bonny says. “It’s just a pleasant environment.”

Challenging and Rewarding Work

Weekly, the group breaks down bulk items—mainly meat and sometimes bread or produce—so it can be repackaged for individuals. The work can be challenging, sometimes even hard, but the volunteers know at the end of their four-hour shift that they’ve done something that makes a difference for SVdP and the people we serve.

“I like being able to see what we accomplished,” says Janet. “And there’s always something to be done, so I know our time there is important.”

Bonny agrees: “While we don’t meet clients, we know our work is helping them,” she says.

Helping others is something that both women are committed to—at SVdP and other places as well. In fact, Janet also volunteers at Franciscan Health where she escorts patients to radiology appointments. And Bonny drives elderly and disabled patients to appointments weekly as a volunteer with Perry Senior Services.

They give of themselves because, as Bonny says, “We’re here to make a difference.”

And it gives life meaning.

“I like volunteering because it gives me a sense of purpose,” says Janet. “I’m 75 years old and it’s still important to me to contribute because we’re all here for a reason.”