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Getting Back More Than I Give

By Kristin Knapp


It’s not that I have extra time on my hands or that I’m looking for a way to fill my
weekly schedule. Believe me, that is not the case at all. Like so many others, I have a
demanding job and a family to keep up with. My parents are aging and my house needs
cleaning. There have been many Wednesday nights when I’ve felt drained coming home
from work and getting out the door in time to help at Patchwork Pantry has been a
challenge. But the funny thing is, no matter how tired I am or how stressful my week has
been, I am always glad I came.

I remember the first time I walked into the Pantry. I had volunteered for various
things in the schools when my children were young, but as they got older I was needed less
and less. There were many ways I could have filled this extra time, and taking a breather
was nice, but there was always a little nagging part of me that wanted to do something that
helped people in my community. I thought about what mattered to me and started to look
around to see if there was something I could do with the little bit of time and energy that I
had. Patchwork Pantry came up in a Google search for local volunteer agencies, and while I
didn’t know anyone associated with it or the church that it operated in, I made a phone call.
 I’ve been volunteering ever since.

There is an energy on a Wednesday night that is hard to explain to those who have
never been here, and it’s really quite remarkable how many people are served in the one
hour time period in which the doors are open.   While these statistics are commendable,
what really stands out to me is the depth of human connection and caring that I witness. I
see it in the conversations I have with the clients that I’ve gotten to know and care about
over the years. I see it in the care taken at the interview tables as volunteers fill out the
necessary paperwork in a variety of languages. I see it in the kitchen as volunteers work
tirelessly to meet the demand without any idea of how many people will show up on any
given week. I see it in the resources given by the community that help to fill the freezer and
cupboards with healthy food. I see it in the Patchwork Kids room where the children of
clients are cared for and entertained while their parents go through the process.  
And that is why I keep coming back. Not only do I keep coming back, I truly feel that
I’m getting back more than I give.

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