Volunteers bustled about Sparrow’s Nest food pantry, unpacking boxes and organized shelves following the holiday weekend.
Many of the selfless folks here are “regulars,” turning up at the same time and day each week to volunteer, making them a familiar sight for those who come to the nonprofit.
But there is one relatively new face among the crowd — Sabra Slade. The new food pantry manager recently stepped up to take the place of Mel Rozier, who retired from the role after many years of service.
“I started in May. I was able to shadow Mel before he left, so I knew a bit ... The volunteers really do most of it,” she said with a laugh.
“I’ve really enjoyed meeting with the clients and starting to get to know them. It’s just such an important resource for the community.”
Sparrow’s Nest, located at 2911 Altama Ave., Brunswick, is part of the locally based FaithWorks ministries. It is always in need of helping hands and open hearts. The organization is currently seeking donations of non-perishable food, especially canned vegetables, fruits, canned meats and soups.
In addition to Sparrow’s Nest, FaithWorks offers a number of outreach programs including The Well, a homeless day shelter in downtown Brunswick, and Open Doors, a initiative that helps the homeless learn construction skills.
In fact, it was this latter program that first connected Slade to Sparrow’s Nest.
“My husband, Ron, actually approached Dr. Culpepper with the idea of starting the Open Doors program,” she said.
For a while, she worked as an administrative assistant as the program got off the ground. Once the Sparrow’s Nest position became available, Slade decided to apply.
While managing a charity wasn’t on her résumé prior, she had ample organizational experience under her belt.
“Before we moved here, I had a background in corporate event planning, and then I was a real estate agent in Montana. So I had dealt a lot with people and contracts,” she said.
“But, of course, this is a very different environment, but we have such a dedicated team of volunteers .... They make it easy for me. We also have a great church community here that is so supportive.”
Slade is tasked with overseeing the more than 100 volunteers who work with the food pantry. She also meets with those seeking assistance. Some, she notes, are in need of short-term aid, while others need help over a longer period.
“On average, we serve about 400 to 500 households a month. There are a range of people: Single parents, grandparents, grandparents raising grandchildren. We also can help with utilities,” she said.
“Some people just have one thing that throws them off ... like a hospitalization or the loss of a job. Most of the people we serve are employed with one or two jobs. They are working really hard to make ends meet.”
Sparrow’s Nest keeps in close contact with families and organizes its food distribution through databases. But mostly, it’s the compassion that those in need find there that makes the difference.
“Sometimes people just need a little help ... And that is what we’re here for,” Slade said.
When Slade is not helping those in need, she can usually be found enjoying the outdoors. The Texas native enjoys hitting the links, which is how she first came to Georgia.
“I went to the University of Georgia and played golf there. My husband is from here, so we had come here to vacation before we moved here two years ago. We came from Montana, which was fun in our 20s and 30s, but we started to get cold,” she said with a laugh.
“But it’s been great. I’m enjoying it ... There’s a little slower pace here.”
Coastal People appears Tuesdays. Contact Lindsey Adkison at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 912-265-8320, ext. 346 to suggest a person for a column.