“People are so funny.”
That’s the expert opinion of Gloria McLeod, after long observation in her role as a volunteer at the House of Hope branch in Jensen Beach.
“Folks bring their long-forgotten treasures to the House of Hope when they clean out their closets or their basement,” she said. “They’re proud to have gotten rid of the blouse that hasn’t been worn in 15 years or the dishes that are haven’t been unpacked since the last move.”
But then the funny thing happens. Just as soon as they’re free of their old clutter, they begin acquiring new clutter. “Most of them buy something before they leave the store,” Gloria observed.
This, of course, is a good thing for House of Hope because all thrift store donations and purchases help the agency provide a safety net for local people in need.
Volunteering is another tremendous boost to House of Hope.
Gloria is a steadfast volunteer on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the Jensen Beach food pantry and thrift store. Her journey to House of Hope began after she and her husband, Charlie, arrived in Jensen Beach about 20 years ago from Highland Mills, NY, a village just west of the Hudson River and about 20 miles from West Point. Up north, she worked in human resources for a Walden Books distribution center. Eventually, it came time to move south.
Gloria discovered House of Hope when delivering the canned goods that her ladies’ Sunday school class collected each week. When she and Charlie brought the food to House of Hope, they learned that although distributing food to the hungry is an important part of House of Hope’s mission, it’s only part of the process.
She and Charlie saw that donations of food had to be logged in, sorted and shelved. Bags of food had to be packed for the families in need. And, on the other side of the food pantry doorway, there’s the thrift store. Donations come in every day, so receiving, sorting and tagging them is an ongoing job.
Gloria volunteered to help with these tasks. And like many volunteers, Gloria gives her time and energy to more than one organization, helping out with Wednesday dinners at her church.
Gloria and Charlie have been married 61 years. Their two children live a continent apart: Their daughter manages a retirement home in Saratoga, NY, and their son works at Microsoft in California. Gloria said she has no idea what he does, but she’s pretty sure it’s important. There are four grandchildren in their lives and one great-grandchild.
When I asked Gloria about why she decided to volunteer at House of Hope, she responded as many volunteers do. She said she simply likes people and enjoys helping those in need.
“It’s fun to serve our community,” she said, and she feels privileged to be working at what she calls “a special organization!” The exclamation point is hers.
To join the fun as a House of Hope volunteer, visit www.hohmartin.org/volunteers.
This article is part of a series of profiles by House of Hope volunteer Arthur Einstein. It includes updates by House of Hope communications director Diane Tomasik.
Watch for further profiles in this series. Posted so far: