April 15, 2009
They give their time to help others.
Jo Ann Neher, 75, has volunteered five days a month at the Open Door food pantry and thrift store since she retired in 1997.
“I just like the organization. I think they are doing a wonderful job. ... The community gave me a lot through the years I worked, and I just felt like I owed it,” Neher said of the volunteer work.
Virginia Cusick, 71, of rural Sedalia, began volunteering with other members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at the Open Door shortly after the organization started in the early 1970s. She works the register two days a month at the thrift store.
“I enjoy it,” she said. “We enjoy the customers and we enjoy working together. We are a good bunch. It’s rewarding.”
Volunteers like Neher and Cusick are invited, along with other supporters of Open Door Service Center, to a banquet at 6:15 p.m. Monday at Parkview Christian Church Family Center, 1405 E. 16th St. Open Door is hosting the banquet to honor volunteers and supporters.
People who plan to attend should call Open Door at 827-1613 to sign up for the banquet by Monday. The dinner is provided free of charge.
Jack Menges, executive director of Open Door, said the organization has hosted a volunteer banquet for most of its 37 years of existence. The food pantry, service center and thrift store have also benefited from donors, of which about 100 contribute on an regular basis.
About 180 people typically attend the banquet, which is more than half of the 300 people who volunteer at Open Door throughout the year. Volunteers fill food orders, sort items and wait on customers in the thrift store, sort through items in the warehouse and drive people to out-of-town doctor’s appointments.
“Without them, we couldn’t operate,” Menges said of the volunteers and donors. “We’re very dependent upon them.”
Open Door assists more than 1,400 families in Pettis County each month by providing food or giving assistance to pay utility bills, prescriptions or gas.
Neher said she thinks the banquet is a good idea.
“I think it’s great because there are a lot of volunteers doing a lot of good, and I think they deserve it,” she said.