West End UMC member Susan Brown signed up for the church’s 2015 Great Day of Service to work at a community gardening project, but the day dawned rainy and cold, daunting even for a Master Gardener like Susan. Friends from her Sunday school class invited her to come instead with them to volunteer at The Little Pantry That Could. She’s been going back most every Friday since!
Listen to this short interview below to find out more about Susan's experience volunteering at The Little Pantry!
Where I Needed To Be // The Little Pantry That Could
The Little Pantry That Could
Begun in response to Nashville’s Great Flood of 2010, The Little Pantry has grown with the help of volunteers like Susan to provide food assistance to more than 200 families and 70 individuals a week. But the Pantry does more than address the basic need for food. For example, Mental Health Co-op, Operation Stand Down, Davidson County Voter Registration, and Symmetry Counseling all hold regular office hours at the Pantry, a place where people living below the poverty line (homeless, food insecure, working poor, and veterans) already feel welcomed, valued, and comfortable, giving them access to these additional and crucial services.
West End UMC also supports The Little Pantry That Could through the church’s Missions & Outreach Grants. In 2018, for example, the funding allowed the Pantry to add shower and laundry facilities on site for those who would otherwise be without.
The Pantry is only open on Fridays and Saturdays 9:00–1:00. On Fridays Susan and other volunteers (some of whom will be shoppers on Saturday) gather food donations and stock the shelves. On Saturdays the shoppers come. The mission of The Little Pantry is to do more than provide food and outreach service. It is also to treat each person with dignity and respect and to let them know they are cared for. Saturday’s volunteers carry out that mission as they assist the shoppers.
To serve, no special training is required. Susan says volunteers simply need “a willingness to follow directions and to make connections to people who have a very different life story.”
On that rainy, cold day a warm invitation from her Sunday school friends led to a blessing. Susan recalls, “Within the first ten minutes, I felt God was speaking directly to me. This was where I needed to be.”