“Unfortunately, I’m not good at sitting still for very long,” Debra (pictured center) says as she reflects on when she first decided to start volunteering at the Central Texas Food Bank on a regular basis. It was about a week after the stay-at -home order was enacted in March 2020. Although she was fortunate to be able to continue her work from home, Debra struggled with the staying home part. “I thought, you know, there’s gotta be something I can do outside of the house that’s safe.”
So, she went to our website and promptly signed up for a shift in the warehouse. Thus began her weekly commitment as a Food Bank volunteer. She loved it so much it became contagious! Not long after she started, her son and husband were joining her for shifts. “It was a great opportunity for us to have some time together and then it kind of became a family thing.”
Then Debra and her family decided to sign up for some mobile pantry shifts, and she says, “that was the event that kind of sealed the deal for me…it was so humbling.” At the height of the pandemic that summer, Debra was struck by the tragedy that impacted folks from all walks of life in her community. She knew then that given all the struggle, she would continue to give her time to support the cause.
And it was only a few months later that she found her way into an open spot in the kitchen. It was chicken parmesan day and when the chef handed Debra a large can of tomato sauce to pour into the pot, it splashed everywhere! “Everybody started laughing and by the end of the shift, I thought, okay this is really great.” She loved it so much, the Friday kitchen shift has been her regular ritual ever since. In Debra’s words, “It’s something that I can look forward to through the week…and I come home Friday tired, but fulfilled.”
Debra is no stranger to hard and fulfilling work, either. For 3 decades, she worked as an elementary school music teacher, devoting her time, talent, and passion to children in the classroom. Now retired, Debra continues to work part time in the field of music education with children. She has even found a connection to her passion in the kitchen, helping prepare meals for our children’s programs. “I feel like it’s kind of come full circle for me,” Debra says. “I’m able to continue to do that work for kids.”
Debra’s commitment to fighting hunger is evident in the sheer amount of time she has devoted to volunteering at the Food Bank, now totaling just over 245 hours! She loves coming in for her Friday “karaoke kitchen” shifts, where she gets to do a little singing and dancing while she works with other volunteers and staff, and she appreciates the student volunteers who come in during her shifts in particular. “It really brings me a lot of hope to hear how much they want to work in a space that is helpful to the community,” Debra says.
We, too, are filled with hope at Debra’s dedication to helping feed her Central Texas neighbors. Thank you for your passion and hard work, Debra! We appreciate you!