Bringing "suh-weetness" to the lives of many facing a sour (economic) situation
by Monica Ho Ehlers (October 1, 2009)
What went up when the economy fell down? The amount of families who needed help putting food on the table. That's when people, like this month's Lime Squeeze Jeanne Barrett literally stepped up to the plate, delivering bags of groceries and food vouchers to the local Safeway to families in her community. "We fed 500 families in the month of August alone. There is a great need," said Barrett, the volunteer coordinator for the St. Vincent de Paul's Society at her parish in San Mateo, California.
The program runs seven days a week delivering to families who can request the service once a month. Barrett, a Bay Area native and mother of three has been involved with St. Vincent de Paul since she was a little girl. "I remember going to serve meals to those less fortunate with my parents during the holidays," she recalled.
Thirteen years ago, she continued her involvement with St. Vincent de Paul through the parish at St. Matthew's with her husband Pat.
Before starting a family, she and Pat would deliver food. When her kids were little, they would help pack bags of groceries. Now that the kids are older, the family works together to organize the food locker and make deliveries. As coordinator, Barrett trains volunteers and plans delivery schedules as well as helping out wherever she is needed.
With regards to the lean economy, she offers a fresh perspective. "If you make good choices, you can live a fulfilled life, even with your family. It is important to stop and take a break from the speed of life and just play," said Barrett, who hung out with her kids in the back yard in lieu of signing them up for camps during the summer.
Combining fitness with practicality, Barrett squeezes in walks almost every day of the week. "We are fortunate to live near downtown. We like to go to the library, park and super market, where the kids pick out produce that I'll cook for the next meal."
Barrett's spirit of generosity is reflected throughout her life, with friends, family and neighbors constantly dropping by her home. "You are always guaranteed a cup of coffee or tea if you stop by," said Barrett, who often accompanies it with a slice of applesauce cake fresh from the oven. "Anyone could drop in for dinner and we would easily have a quick pasta dish with pine nuts, spinach, chicken, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice."
Her spirit of generosity has brought a smile to so many faces, and food to many in the community. Jeanne Barrett brings out "sweetness" by Livin' Lime every day!
For more information about the St. Paul De Vincent organization and how you can help, please check out http://www.svdpusa.org/