Volunteer Spotlight: Steve Gonzer, “Pantry Champion”
A Big Heart Fills A Big Bag: Introducing The JFS “Pantry Champion”
Steve Gonzer would like you to know that he’s really very shy and does not like to talk about himself. This month, we’re profiling him as a JFS Volunteer and even though he said he didn’t know what to say, we think he says all the right things.
Steve has volunteered with JFS in many capacities over the years – from taking part in Adopt-A-Family during the winter holidays, to providing support for those with gambling addictions, to donating food to the JFS Food Pantry. Everyone at JFS knows Steve: “Steve Gonzer has been a Pantry Champion! He has been calling every few weeks and asking what specific items we need, and delivering them by the trunk load!” and “Great guy! Fun to talk to.” It was his unofficial role as “Pantry Champion” that we are profiling him for this month.
JFS: So Steve, you’ve become a minor celebrity around JFS for your donations to the food pantry. What drives you to give back in this way?
SG: I’ve always felt the need to share what I have with others. I’m not just talking about food because it’s not hard for me to fill another bag at the grocery store for someone who needs it. I want to repair the world and I know that there are people who are not as lucky as me. I want to share what I have and hopefully, I can inspire others to give a little more for someone in need, like adding another bag of groceries during their weekly shopping trip.
JFS: You’re involved with JFS in a few different ways, what do you wish people knew about the organization?
SG: Well, for starters, JFS and the food pantry are a family affair. Everyone there is concerned about the greater community. They’re there to help the entire community, not just Jews. I drop off, I talk to people and I see all the services the agency provides. If more people can be inspired to come in and bring food, more people will see just how much JFS does.
JFS: You mentioned that it’s not hard to fill an extra bag (or cart) at the grocery store for someone in need. Back in the summer, you dropped off a whole bunch of peanut butter – what kinds of food can people donate to our food pantry?
SG: In my opinion, it’s important that food people want to eat is available. Whether that’s kosher food, Tasty Cakes, or peanut butter. I try not to eat junk food but I like it and I know that other people like to eat it too. But seriously, if people are not getting the proper nutrition, their potential is wasted. I like to call ahead and and find out what the pantry needs and then I get to go and shop for it. Even if it’s something I don’t eat, I know that someone will benefit from that food.
JFS: One of the values of JFS is B’Tzelem Elohim: treating others with the inherent dignity that arises from the belief that all human beings were created in the image of G-d. How do you think donating to the food pantry fills that value?
SG: When I hear of people saying they have to choose between food and medicine, I know there’s no reason for that. There is no excuse for hunger when we have an abundance of food available. Where there is food insecurity, there is a breakdown in human dignity. Why should anyone who has the means donate to the food pantry? The better question is: Why doesn’t everyone with the means donate to the JFS food pantry?
(Previously published in The Jewish Voice – October 2017)
The JFS Food Pantry is open to all current clients and Refugee families. They may access the pantry once a week accompanied by their clinician. The Pantry is kept stocked by members of the community, local organizations, and our Mitzvah Basket program. JFS is currently seeking local businesses that would be willing to willing to host a food drive one month per year. If interested in learning more or to donate, please contact Jody Grinberg, Team Coordinator at 302-478-9411, xt. 134 or JGrinberg@jfsdelaware.org.