From Food Bank Beneficiary to Food Bank Volunteer

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The Community Food Bank of New Jersey’s Southern Branch helps put the food on tables for families across Cape May, Atlantic, and Cumberland counties.

“My choice of volunteering is always to help the homeless, to help people who are hungry,” said Sherry Townsend, who previously utilized the Food Bank. “I mean, I know what it feels like, and it’s not a pleasant feeling.”

Families across South Jersey utilize the Community Food Bank to help put food on their table.

 I mean, I know what it feels like, and it’s not a pleasant feeling.

And for one Atlantic County mom, after relying on her local food bank on and off for the last few years, she’s now planning on spending her time giving back to it.

“There’s no judgment, whatsoever, as it should be,” said Townsend. “I mean, that’s why we’re here, that’s why we have this program, because there [are] people like us that need to get through humps, and it’s just awesome from the moment you walk in.”

For Townsend, the Community Food Bank of New Jersey’s Southern Branch was the reason there was food on the table for her and her son after her husband passed away.

Soon after, they relocated to Colorado, and then down South to help out her mother.

“So I was in Florida for a little over a year, and came back a year ago in August,” said Townsend. “And came back to nothing.”

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That’s when she turned again to the Food Bank to help get back on her feet.

In May, she was employed full-time at Egg Harbor Township’s new Wal-mart and ran into a familiar face.

“She said, ‘My name is Sherry,’ and she started to get really emotional,” said Renate Taylor, a developmental officer for the Community Food Bank of New Jersey’s Southern Branch. “And I said, 'Sherry, what is it?' And she said, ‘I used to be a participant at the Food Bank, but now I have a full-time job and I want to come back and volunteer.’”

Currently, Townsend is a volunteer in training.

“We’re a nonprofit, we’re a food bank,” said Richard Uniacke. “We could never come close to pay for enough people to replace all of these volunteers, so they really are our life’s blood, and without them, we can’t do any of this.”

Townsend’s main goal? Spread hope and happiness by telling her story.

“You know, it can be something as simple as making someone smile and saying, ‘Hey, you’re going to be alright, you’re going to get through this,” said Townsend.

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