Connected heart to heart: Holy Family welcomes new outreach coordinators
by Susan Cunningham
At the heart of Christ’s message is the command to love one another. At the heart of our Holy Family Outreach is a couple energized by that charge. While the ministry welcomes Bill and Anne Ganey to the helm as coordinators of this vibrant work, they are no newcomers in their generosity.
Bill and Anne are self-admittedly “semi-retired,” though one wonders what life was like before this, considering all they are about now! Bill has a background in sales and retail store management. Anne has worked as a registered nurse for forty-seven years, formerly at Upstate, and now for Maxim Health Care offering flu shots and wellness clinics in a number of counties.
The couple met in Auburn as across-the-street neighbors and became a blended family thirty-six years ago. They are proud of their three sons, two daughters-in-law, one grandson, and four great-grandchildren.
The generosity of this duo reaches across many years. Fourteen years ago they began volunteering as mentors for the Engaged Couple Ministry with the Living in Love program. They, along with other parish couples coordinated by Fran and Pam Stepien, spend seven sessions with engaged couples over the course of a few months reviewing topics of import on the journey to the Sacrament of Marriage.
About 10 years ago, Anne also joined the Health Care Ministry founded by Chris Kelly and Fran Knorr. They are also extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist. Nudged by the Holy Spirit, both Bill and Anne became volunteer food pantry coordinators four years ago. Now, following the loving leadership of Bridget Buttner, they have accepted the task of caring and carrying forward the work of outreach.
Their enthusiasm is contagious! They are joined by a spirited group of dedicated volunteers, some of whom were working with the food pantry when it was just a few shelves under a stairway in the old church.
The pantry serves anyone, regardless of affiliation, residing in the eastern half of the West Genesee School District. Many are astounded by the fact that there are persons with these basic needs right in the neighborhood.
Sometimes it is an emergency like a job loss or illness that brings an individual or family to the pantry. In other situations, both parents may be working and bringing home minimum wage; help with five days’ worth groceries can help to make it through the month. It may be a senior living on an income that was fixed years ago. Even for folks eligible for food stamps, there are necessities not covered by the EBT food-only program.
This duo has an urgency to raise awareness, in the parish and the wider community, of the efforts of outreach. They are available for tours of the pantry and plan to put together a display of just what five days’ supply of food looks like. They also offer their time to do public speaking to boost the mission.
This is a very generous community! Envelopes of $5-$20 appear anonymously on a regular basis. A gentleman appears with multiple cases of laundry detergent. Another just stops in to see what the shortages are and a bit later arrives with an abundance. Bags of groceries, toiletries, and paper products adorn the Gathering Space. Thanksgiving morning Mass finds the sanctuary full of pantry offerings.
In addition to meeting year-round needs, seasonal outreach is headed by Mark and Kathy Kendrick at Thanksgiving and Christmas, while Martha Myers coordinates the Easter program. The giving trees hold 1100 angels marking gifts for people of various ages, serving both our neighborhood families and those of a dozen other organizations with limited resources. The seasonal baskets include cards designed by Holy Family elementary students.
Bill and Anne appreciate the cooperation between ministries and hope to strengthen that synergy. They are emphatic that confidentiality is strictly maintained always. They also share a long-term goal of helping recipients move to the next step with ideas of a mini-job fair, help with resumes, interviews, career clothing, and the mentoring so essential in offering the encouragement needed to meet the challenges of the workplace. They want to enable people to experience the dignity and benefits of work. They would like to know of local employment opportunities so that transportation away from the neighborhood here would not be necessary.
All are welcome to participate in the endeavors of outreach. Recipients prepared a meal for those helping with the holiday distribution. Workplaces, organizations, and schools hold food drives at anytime during the year. Families and businesses are sponsors at Christmastime. Travelers contribute sample sizes of shampoo and dental supplies. School children bring needed items to the classroom or Faith Formation sessions. Basketball players and Confirmation candidates haul baskets of gifts and bags of food. Retirees pick up donations from area businesses. Volunteers restock the pantry as donations arrive and prepare bags of food to be shared. Others offer encouragement to those in need or pick up an extra item or two on their household shopping trips.
While the command of Jesus is to love one another, it is in a spirit of gratitude that we do so, always conscious of the Lord’s abundant blessings whatever our circumstances. Where there is a will for kindness, there it will be. We are all connected heart to heart. There is a need that can be met by you. Contact Bill and Anne at 315-466-2885. Email is: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave them a note at the Holy Family Parish Office on Chapel Drive. Thank you for your generosity!