Five mornings a week for the last 11 years, I came in the backdoor of PRC through the food pantry, weaving my way in and around, all the boxes and carts and volunteers, all bustling and busily organizing. Every day different things to sort, different volunteers with likes and dislikes, different ways of doing things.
But there was one constant in the Food Pantry.
To the fresh-faced newbies, Judy was a little scary. She was short, but commanding. She was bossy. She was organized. Judy could be gruff. She smoked. (A lot!) But she was so kind.
Demanding clients, fussy children, overbearing volunteers, Judy could handle them all. She seemed fearless. She seemed invincible.
And yet she had such a soft heart when it came to the underdog.
Judy had many friends from many walks of life. The donors she knew came to the back door with their treasures for her approval. She had just as many friends who were having troubles, maybe between jobs or places to stay.
But they were all the same to her.
If you needed food, she fed you. If you needed personal products, she had a stash of them in her “secret aisle of fun.” She was known to grab a couple of coats for some homeless folks who were caught outside during a coldsnap. Batteries, she hoarded by the gross! Shampoo. Make-up. Rain panchos. Backpacks. Her special aisle even had bins of donated toys.
Come to Judy’s Aisle! You will more than likely, find what you’re looking for.
On Wednesdays and Fridays, she sorted and stocked the shelves while crabbing about the Cubs’ game from the night before, then picked out a few good romance novels to borrow for some serious reading before bed. She made lunches for “special” volunteers. She microwaved frozen breakfasts for “her girls” at the front desk. Judy would sort out a lovely variety of sweet rolls for us to share on a Saturday morning. “Oh, eat them,” she’d say, “they’ll just get moldy here over the weekend.”
Our clients aren’t the only one who’ll remember her kindness.
I’ll remember her as one more fabulous personality that I got to know thanks to my work here at PRC. I miss her very much.