"Every minute and every item donated helps someone, somewhere."
"As a middle class family of five, we struggle sometimes to get assistance." said Jessica Bigelow Leary a dedicated volunteer at Margaret’s Pantry. "My family either makes too much or not enough—we’re right on the cusp. Two years ago we were selected as one of the first Veteran families through Revitalize CDC for a home makeover and through that experience we were introduced to Providence Ministries. We then participated in the annual adopt-a-family holiday program here at Providence Ministries where my children received Christmas gifts and food enough for our holiday meal.
As a way to give back, Jessica began volunteering at Margaret’s Pantry. She has really enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside long-time Pantry Manager Brenda Lamagdeleine and other volunteers and misses it when she’s not there.
In addition to leading her family as a rock star mom and wife, Jessica is also a pursuing her degree in special needs education at Holyoke Community College. She truly believes that there is always some way she can contribute to her Holyoke community. "When I’m out and about I tell folks like me, in the middle class, about Margaret’s Pantry as a tremendous resource. Since my family has been members of the Pantry, I am not longer stressing about what we’re going to eat; we have not gone hungry." Jessica also added the dignity she felt coming to the pantry; she recalls Brenda telling her "…it’s no one’s business what you make, if you are in need we are here for you."
Jessica brings her husband and son to volunteer with her and encourages others to become more involved; to host food drives beyond just Thanksgiving and Christmas. While the physical size of the pantry is small, the heart of its mission is huge and our volunteers, like Jessica, make it such. Jessica says, "There are always things to organize, grocery bags to pack and people to feed." When asked what Jessica would share with others about her experience, she stated simply: "Every minute and every item donated helps someone, somewhere."
Recently, Jessica stepped forward to run the pantry during Brenda’s medical leave. Because of Jessica’s compassionate care for others, the pantry doors remained opened and folks were fed.
Compassion is within all of us and it surely dwells in the heart of Jessica.