Every Tuesday, Gretchen Jaeckel arrives at the Crisis Ministry’s Princeton food pantry, ready to work.
Sleeves rolled up, Gretchen unpacks boxes and then breaks them down, stocks shelves, sorts through produce, separates the good fruit from the spoiled, and tidies up the store.
All of this before the doors even open to clients.
This busy routine suits Gretchen. Besides being a wife and mother of two, Gretchen fills her days working as a meeting planner, playing ice hockey, and strumming the mandolin in an all-girl Bluegrass band!
She always finds time, however, to serve the community in ways that are meaningful to her. Gretchen has put in countless hours volunteering for Trinity Episcopal Church’s St. Nicholas Bazaar, rummage sales, and Prayer Shawl knitting committee, and, of course those Tuesday afternoons in the Princeton pantry.
“I have been volunteering at the Crisis Ministry Food Pantry in Princeton for eight years,” she says. “It truly has become a part of my life. Friends, family and co-workers know that I am unavailable to them on Tuesdays because that is my Food Pantry Day.”
For Gretchen, the rewards of being a volunteer are many. She sees the difference her work makes in the lives of the people who come to the food pantry when they need help.
“I enjoy interacting with the clients and getting to know their families,” Gretchen says. Her friendly smile and calm manner put everyone at ease, often bringing a shy child or a hesitant adult shopper out of his or her shell.
“I especially enjoy getting to practice speaking Spanish with our Latino clients,” Gretchen says. This is the kind of care Gretchen takes with every client. She goes the extra mile.
What Gretchen cherishes most are those times when she can see how much this food pantry means to the people it serves.
“One of our clients even brings us homemade Tamales as a show of gratitude!” Gretchen says. “But, I can’t overlook how it saddens me to see the incredible need for the Crisis Ministry in a town like Princeton. Thank God for the Crisis Ministry! The patrons are truly grateful for being able to get assistance in making ends meet.”
In turn, The Crisis Ministry recognizes the tireless dedication of volunteers like Gretchen, and for that we give wholehearted thanks!