Story and photos submitted by Jennifer Kaylor
Administrative Assistant at the Rocky Mountain United Methodist Foundation
Two women stand like sentinels on a stony median that directs drivers into a shopping plaza. The younger woman, Jessica, holds a sign stating simply, “Broke and hungry.” Snowballing misfortunes – diabetes, heart disease, job loss – brought the two women to their humbling station.
Jessica and her friend Rachel are visible reminders of life’s unfairness and unpredictability. But what about those who despair invisibly? Across Colorado’s vast landscape, families in rural communities struggle to survive. Miles of farm and ranch land separate them from busy urban areas where help is most often available.
At First United Methodist Church in Pierce, Colorado, three women stand like sentinels to support people in need. Barb Hensley, Donna Munch, and Becky Linenbroker recognized the invisible distress of their neighboring communities. So in early 2012 they began organizing distributions of food and other supplies. The seeds of their efforts blossomed into a monthly church-wide food pantry that now incorporates provisions from the Weld Food Bank.
Rain or shine, church and community members assemble to volunteer time, talent, resources, and energy to provide eight meals per family, along with some snacks and kids’ treats. The once mostly idle church building is now bustling regularly with activity. People who were unaware of the little church on Third Street are now attending worship services.
Darby Kieler’s joy is apparent, not only in the expression on her face, but in the expression of her heart. “In these tough times, we have all learned to redefine our sense of community through the generosity and kindness of others and the Lord. Seeing new faces in our church and the effects of a few acts of kindness fill me with joy. I always walk away with a sense of accomplishment. I have helped others. My church has helped others.”
The pantry conveys The United Methodist perspective of “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” and stretches to reach beyond physical needs for many people. Adjudicated individuals earn community service hours by volunteering at the pantry while they simultaneously gain a renewed sense of purpose and direction. Youth offer their time and abundant energy to the corps of pantry helpers as they put God’s love into action.
As Pierce Food Pantry grows, volunteers tackle various challenges. Carpentry skills and packing expertise have been tapped to improve dry-goods storage. A quest for refrigeration to store perishables was initiated, which led Pierce Food Pantry to apply for a Financial Ministries Grant from the Rocky Mountain United Methodist Foundation
. The Foundation’s award of $2,205, along with help from Weld Food Bank, allowed the pantry to purchase two industrial refrigeration units. Now recipients may add milk, yogurt, eggs, and meats to their bags before heading home.
While the pantry continues to flourish, the church continues to grow in stature, visibility, and meaning in the community. It is a place where God’s love is felt and shared, support is offered, relationships are deepened, and hope is alive.
The Rocky Mountain United Methodist Foundation is offering Financial Ministries Grants. If your church, mission, agency, or ministry has an idea to foster vitality and financial growth, download this information to learn about the Rocky Mountain United Methodist Foundation’s specific grant requirements.