Staff member John Wilson and volunteer Kathy Hobbs at Western Egyptian EOC Food Pantry in Waterloo, Il / Photo by Kate Hartman
“If you would have told me I would have been volunteering at a place this small, I would have laughed,” says Western Egyptian EOC Food Pantry volunteer Kathy Hobbs of the Waterloo, Illinois based food pantry. “I love the people; I love what I’m doing.”
While the space is small, the passion to service the families of Monroe County, Illinois is mighty.
Every Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can find staff member John Wilson and volunteer Kathy Hobbs serving anywhere from 30 to 40 families at a time.
“When I first started, there were about 15 to 20 families,” says Hobbs of the diligent pantry.
Wilson and Hobbs were able to take a few minutes out of their day to do a brief Q and A with the St. Louis Area Foodbank regarding their time at Western Egyptian EOC Food Pantry:
1. Please give me your name and the name of the agency where you volunteer.
John Wilson, Western Egyptian EOC Food Pantry
Kathy Hobbs, Western Egyptian EOC Food Pantry
2. When did you first become involved with this agency?
Wilson: I began working for the Western Egyptian Steeleville office in April of 2010. I began working in the Waterloo office January of 2011.
Hobbs: I have been a volunteer since May 2012.
3. What prompted you to begin working or volunteering with this agency?
Wilson: I was working in weatherization. Now, I balance programs — home buyer’s program, utility assistance, and the food pantry.
Hobbs: I started out as a client; that’s how I started volunteering. I feel I’m not just taking, I’m giving back.
4. How many people does your agency serve on an average month?
Wilson: 190 to 240 Individuals; 100 to120 families
5. How do you feel the St. Louis Area Foodbank affects the services you are able to provide your clients?
Wilson: Because of the increase in the past couple months; more families seeking assistance, the product helps to further assist those families. We appreciate the St. Louis Area Foodbank and all the information they give us.
6. Do you feel the work you do is really making a difference in the lives of the people you serve? Can you tell me about an experience that made you feel you were making an impact?
Wilson: Yes. They show appreciation for what we do by dropping off Thank You cards for food or other assistance programs. It’s been a blessing to be a part of.
Hobbs: Yeah, I do. A woman just told me, if we weren’t here she and her girls would be going hungry right now. What we give them is an extra boost.
7. In your time as a volunteer/staff member, what are the most significant changes you have seen?
Wilson: We’ve been able to become more affiliated with a lot more organizations and churches, so our donations have gone up. We’ve been so blessed. We’ve even had a refrigerator donated to us.
8. From your vantage point, what one thing would you like to see happen to improve the economic situation in America?
Wilson: I’m just praying. I’m not too sure how to answer that one. Hopefully things get better for everyone. We’ve definitely taken a significant loss with a lot of our programs. Hopefully that will bounce back.
Kate Hartman is an agency relations coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank