Written on: August 14, 2015
For the past six years, Yolanda, a young mother from Mexico, along with her mother, daughter, son, and two nephews have been volunteer packers at Marguerite’s Pantry in Queens NY. The role of this tight knit family is intricate to the efficient functioning of the pantry as they arrive early on pantry day, sort, shelve and pack grocery bags for the next three hours or more for the 200 to 250 families who are served monthly.
Last January, Yolanda’s daughter Diana, said: “Sister Anne Marie, my mother has a surprise to tell you.” With her beautiful smile and dancing eyes, Yolanda shared in half Spanish half English, that she was expecting a baby in June.
While sharing in Yolanda’s and Diana’s obvious joy about another sibling, I selfishly wondered, what would happen to our packers without the main support of Yolanda! That thought quickly left as I realized somehow, for the past 19 years, the Pantry, founded by the New York area Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart and named for our Foundress St. Marguerite D’Youville, has always had generous men, women and children who volunteer. Many, including Yolanda, have waited on line and received food donated by the local parishes and the Food Bank of New York City.
The excitement we all felt for Yolanda and her family was contagious among all the volunteers. Not surprisingly by April, a group of volunteers after secretly consulting with Diana, had a baby shower on pantry day in the rectory basement. Besides all the wonderful baby boy clothes, toys and diapers, we had enough donated money to buy a carriage and outfit a second hand bassinette and crib. It was probably one of the simplest, most basic baby showers, but the outpouring of love for Yolanda and her family as well as the gratitude expressed was truly a God experience.
Besides coordinating Marguerite’s Pantry since its inception in 1996, Sister Anne Marie had worked at Mercy Medical Center as a drug and alcoholism counselor for over twenty years. In 2006, while completing her MSW at Fordham University, Sister Anne Marie began her career as a social worker with older adults at Catholic Charities where she continues to minister as a supervisor today. Sister Anne Marie has also served on GNSH formation and vocation committees for several years.