Eight years ago Gwen Marshall was studying for her realtor’s license and had plans to save money for her dream home. Then she volunteered to help at Columbia County Cares food pantry and her plans changed.
“I told my husband I’m not being called to be a realtor, I’m being called to help these people” said Marshall. Today she still lives in their double-wide trailer but she is okay with that.
“Because of what I do here, I lay my head down on my pillow at night knowing that someone had a meal,” said Marshall, “That is what sets my heart on fire.”
Columbia County Cares mainly serves the needs of the county but if they have a surplus they share with other food banks as well. They often donate to Masters Kitchen, Hope House and other agencies.
Other organizations also provide help to the agency. The Post Office food drive brought in more than 10,000 pounds of food, as did the Merchant’s Association food drive during the county fair. Many churches hold fundraisers, and an annual spaghetti dinner raises money for the agency. In addition, they get daily food donations from Aldi’s, Fresh Market and Bi-Lo.
As assistant director, Marshall volunteers about 100 hours a month. “I do it all. I shop, I’m the driver, I do every job in the building” said. Marshall.
Getting to know the clients is the best part of the job though.
“When they come through those doors they know I am here for them. That’s what I like because this is my passion. This is so important to me” she said.
The clients at Columbia County Cares know that they can come to the staff with any problem and they will use their extensive contacts with other agencies to find them help.
“We have never sent someone out that door without food” says Marshall, “ We never have and we never will.”