Episode 23: Deann Servos from Prodisee Pantry

Transcript:

Welcome to podcast #23 of the Mobile, Alabama Business podcast with Deann Servos. My name is Marcus Neto; I own Blue Fish Design Studio. We are a digital marketing and web design company located downtown on Dauphin Street. I’m the host of Mobile, Alabama Business podcast where we talk to local entrepreneurs and business owners about their businesses and how they got started. I’d like to thank you for spending time with us today.

In today’s episode, I sit down with Deann Servos; she is the Executive Director of Prodisee Pantry. If you get nothing more from this episode, my hope would be that you would go to Prodisee Pantry’s website. This is a local non-profit that takes no money from the government and feeds thousands of people in our area. The address is prodiseepantry.org. Go there and get involved; whether it be money or time, any donation would be much appreciated. 

I’ve known Deann for over 10 years. I know that because Prodisee Pantry was instrumental in serving families hit hard by hurricane Ivan, which was over 10 years ago. She does an amazing job of telling the story of the Pantry and getting people to join in in that effort. She has a heart for helping those that are food insecure. Prodisee Pantry is also a non-profit that has garnered national attention. So let’s dive right in with Deann Servos.

Marcus: Today I’m sitting down with Deann Servos. Deann is the Executive Director of The Prodisee Pantry, which is currently on track to provide assistance to over 12,000 families in 2015. Welcome to the podcast, Deann.

Deann: Thank you for having me.

Marcus: Very cool. Go back a little bit in history and tell us a little bit about yourself. Are you from Mobile? How did you end up here if you are not? Did you go to school in the area? That kind of thing.

Deann: Well about 15 years ago my husband was transferred to the Mobile area to go to work. And being a homemaker with 3 small children I came in tow. And we settled in Spanish Fort, Alabama, which it instantly became our home and we found play groups, church groups and got very involved in our community. And we enjoy being here now, it is our home.

Marcus: Very cool. So I’m gathering it is safe to say that you did not move down here thinking that you were going to start one of the larger food banks in the area; is that accurate?

Deann: I had no clue what God had envisioned for my family. I knew that we would move here, and actually I made a deal with my husband and I said,"I’ll move if we are going to look each other in two years and decide whether we want to stay." And we decided to stay. And shortly thereafter I was approached about the food pantry and I said "Sure, I can help with that; my kids are in pre-school, this is great."

Marcus: I love how she says, "Help with that." 

Deann: It was really worth a "help with that," so we had lunch at my home. And so the first meeting about Prodisee Pantry- the name selection, our thought...of how many we would serve, and how we are going to model this food pantry- was over a meal at my kitchen table and in my life, “Food is Love.” And so we all sat together, a bunch of women, and decided we were going to tackle hunger in our community, and we knew that there were hungry people. Our little battle cry was “There are no poor people in Spanish Fort ”; that statement was made to us and we rallied saying, "We know that’s not true." We’ve driven around and saw a lot of poverty in Baldwin County, and there are pockets of urban poverty in Baldwin County We first started thinking we were going to feed those that were hungry in Spanish Fort.

Marcus: Just Spanish Fort?

Deann: Just Spanish Fort.

Marcus: You kind of gave a glimpse of how Prodisee Pantry got started. This wasn’t something that you’ve always wanted to do; it wasn’t like, "Oh I’m going to be an Executive director of a non-profit at some point in my life," or anything like this. You were just intending on being home with the kids and being mom to them and so on and so forth, right? And so looking back at that, was there a point at which you can see that kind of changed and you realized “This is a much bigger problem and I’m the person that’s going to take this of head first”?

Deann: We started that pantry and officially opened on November 18th in 2003, and April the next year the person who was officially the director resigned. And so we had started something good and in my heart, I knew it could be bigger and better. So our team of volunteers got together and started researching, and that’s how we tapped into the U.S. Department of Agriculture key fact food from the Bay area food bank, and that allows us to do what we do for a low cost, very efficient and effective to help so many families. So that was the turning point; at that point we knew that we were growing bigger than one church, this had to be a community ministry supported by the entire community; and it’s by the community and for the community, and that’s really what makes me proud to be a part of it. 

As an Executive director of course there are rules and responsibilities, but I tell people and I sincerely mean it, that I just hang on to God’s coat tails; he has provided everything that we have ever needed. There has never been a time that we haven’t received a grant just when monies are running out, or a special delivery of food, or a rollover truck filled with green beans before thanksgiving. All of these things happen and I truly know that God intends for us to do what we are doing.

Marcus: When you said "2004," I thought you were actually going to go back to hurricane Katrina, because I remember at that time... Prodisee Pantry originally started out as kind of an arm of Spanish Fort United Methodist Church.

Deann: That’s correct.

Marcus: And so at the time I was actually helping at Spanish Fort United Methodist Church, leading worship for the youth group, and stuff like that. And so I remember at that time when hurricane Ivan came through and completely wrecked lower Mobile County. There were times where we had 20/30 Ryder trucks out front and it was just a constant stream of semi trucks that were coming in. if you want to talk about trial by fire; there were certainly some experiences that were learned out of that as far as emergency preparedness and stuff like that. Talk to that a little bit, and what are some of the things that you may have learned out of that experience.

Deann: Running a large emergency food program is all about logistics and coordination, and hurricane Ivan really got our feet wet, so to speak. So we ordered our first tractor trailer load of food on faith, not paid for; but the monies came.

Marcus: I’m laughing not because of the funniness; I now recognize that there was a pun in there that wasn’t necessarily intended. I’m laughing because I’m thinking about the amount of food that you had to process and the efforts that went into that and that you were just saying "getting your feet wet." Go ahead and continue.

Deann: So that really started a turning point for our program; we knew that we could be bigger. By the summer, when hurricane Ivan hit, we were thinking through that process. So our first tractor trailer load of food that we ordered, 53-foot filled with food, came for us to distribute during hurricane Ivan; we prepared. And at that time we started taking classes and training, and things to try to figure out how to best run a non-profit, because that’s not my background; I’m a retired broadcast journalist and I was a stay-at-home mom. I wanted to make sure I was doing it right. 

So I started taking classes and training that were offered by other non-profits, and Volunteers America was a big of that; technical training on how to run a non-profit. And we had filed our incorporation papers, and we knew that Katrina was looming in the Gulf. It was pretty evident that the world that we knew was going to change. A lot of prayer went into how we are going to handle this. And when it made landfall we knew that Spanish Fort was okay and it was our responsibility to respond. 

I don’t recall every day of Katrina, it’s a very big blur; but there is a photograph of me sitting in front of the gathering place in a chair with a donation sign behind me, half asleep on my cell phone, I can’t tell if I’m sleeping or not in the picture. But my cell phone became a lifeline between the Gulf Coast and the North East corridor. And when Ivan hit, a friend of mine from my television days called and said, "Are you okay? You live in South Alabama; we hear everything is bad. How is the Gulf Coast?" And they did a live phone interview, and through that phone interview the trucking company owner in Lancaster, Pennsylvania runs New England Motor Freight Company, got his trucking company together and they caravanned down with the first 12 trucks. The time it was said and done, 22 trucks came from New England Motor Freight Company, and we knew we were in the game; really literally, figuratively having to unload, sort and redistribute. There are estimates floating around from that time period of anywhere from $7 million to $25 million of relief supplies that our volunteers handled, from that old shopping center to many relief sites; from Pass Christian, D'Iberville, Pearl Mississippi, Bayou La Batre, the Eastern shore, Baldwin County area responded like never before.

Marcus: I will never forget that experience. I actually rode over in one of the Ryder trucks and we ended up in an area that had been hit pretty badly. And to walk into somebody’s home and see that they have taken all of their personal belongings and literally thrown them in their front yard, and that there is a big scoop truck just coming through and just basically scooping everything up and taking it about a hundred yards down the road, and just dumping everything that these people own; like every single possession that they have. And knowing that they think that they are blessed because they're is still alive. That they are so thankful that somebody is there that even cares. We talked to a handful of people, it wasn’t that many, but they will forever be imprinted on my brain. I’m surprised I can talk about this without getting a bit emotional, because it was just such a blessing to be able to do that, to take part. I didn’t go down that often, it was Bayou LA Batre, it was the area that we went to that day; I didn’t go down that often, but we were often helping sort and box things up and stuff like that.

So onto lighter topics; because I think what you all are doing is so extremely important. If you were to describe Prodisee Pantry and what you are doing in this area and how you are helping; what’s the term that you all use?

Deann: Food insecure families.

Marcus: What are some of the things that you are currently doing; describe Prodisee Pantry as an organization and what some of the efforts are that you are doing?

Deann: Prodisee Pantry is a volunteer-run community ministry, and so we really do bring hope by feeding families; physical, emotional and spiritual hunger, and we do that on a variety of ways. Every person that comes in gets groceries; so we are meeting their physical need. An emotional need may be a warm smile, pat on the back, a handshake, or just looking someone in the eye and recognizing them as a human being. And then we have the opportunity as time goes on to address spiritual needs if they are open to the idea. And so our volunteers come from a wide background; from retired Marines, nurses, school teachers, stay at home moms, and it’s the whole community and you can feel that; you can feel God at work through different people when you walk into Prodisee Pantry on Tuesday morning.

That is so humbling to me to know that we started and prayed that people would come. To the point that we have now, some weeks, over 300 families come looking for the most basic things; food and someone that cares. And we don’t just give them groceries; we sit down, we talk to a person, we look at their finances, we try to come up with a plan to help them move forward. We are extremely blessed now that we have dozens of other non-profits and other programs that are on site now Tuesday morning that families can walk over and get help with maybe prescriptions or if they need counseling, or if they aren’t signed up for food stamps. All of these things are on site, which takes us to the next level. And they all leave with fresh produce, frozen meats, cereals, and boxes of canned staple goods. Because we learned a long time ago we can give you a box of groceries, we can give out more groceries than you can imagine, but if we don’t address any of these other needs we are actually not helping someone move forward.

By being able to become what has been deemed a ‘hub of hope,’ by pulling all of these resources in and allowing volunteers to do what they do best, which is to connect with other people, we are fostering hope and helping families move forward. And that’s our real goal. And some people say to me, "Well, what about the senior citizens?" We have a lot of older folks in their 80's who live on just social security, and just over 600 dollars a month does not make it, you can’t do it in today’s time. And they come for groceries, yes, but they also come because they get to know somebody; they chat with somebody, they get to be out and about, and that’s really huge for someone who may be home all the time by themselves.

Marcus: Yeah, the human connection cannot be denied.

Deann: I say, and a lot of volunteers will say, "We are more blessed than the people that receive on Tuesday morning,’ and that’s the energy behind what keeps us going, because as a non-profit there is always issues behind the scenes; there is never enough funding, there is always ‘How are we going to get enough volunteers to help unload a truck?’ Because people see our Tuesday morning, but our non-profit runs all week long in order to make Tuesday morning happen. And so that’s one of our biggest challenges; as a lot of people know, it’s a really more than a full time job when you are an Executive director.

Marcus: I’m going to ask you a question, but I want to give you some parameters because I think it can go a couple of different ways. So the question is this; is there an area of the non-profit that you are putting a lot of effort into? And I don’t necessarily mean like what are your immediate needs; I mean like as a business you are putting effort into HR, maybe putting effort into marketing or something like that. In the non-profit world I recognize that you still deal with a lot of those same things even though it takes a slightly different bent. So how would you answer that?

Deann: Well I think we spent a lot of time on board development, to teach people how to be board members so that you can legally run a non-profit in the best fashion. We are kind of shifting our focus right now into volunteer management, to make sure for the long term that our volunteers are also taken care of and that we have a continual flow of volunteers. We are one of the few volunteer programs that encourages children to come; that is a whole opportunity for us.

We are constantly looking for new ways to stay fresh and encourage new groups of people to discover, because we spent a long time in the early part of this year promoting hunger as an invisible issue in our community. And the only way to spread that word is to reach new pockets of our community that don’t understand that there are people who are hungry in line behind them at the grocery store or sitting next to them at church, or playing at the playground with their children, because it’s not something people talk about. And so volunteer management and our mission awareness is our big focus this year; to make sure that we have the volunteer base to continue to run efficient, effective and compassionately, and the only way to do that is through volunteers.

Marcus: Well it’s interesting that you bring up volunteers because actually my next question is; I know you are on a pretty tight ship over at Prodisee Pantry, and you have a huge group of volunteers that have partnered with you and that you get support from the community at large. Some non-profits they rely on large grants, either from the government or from for profit organizations. But if you were talking to someone that wanted to use something similar to what you’ve done, and they wanted to harness the power of volunteers and make a difference without being chained to those grant type funds, what’s the bit of wisdom that you would impart to them? Because I know that there is something there in motivating people to give of their time, because often, time is more valuable than their money. You’ve tapped into that in a way than not many organizations have. So what would you say to somebody that was in your shoes, that was looking to kind of harness that power?

Deann: I think you have to educate your volunteers about your mission and why you are doing it. I think that it’s critical to us; people know that we are not just there to pack up groceries and drop them in the back of a car and send someone home; we are there about helping families move forward. Almost everyone, when they think about it, can understand hunger on a certain level. Not everyone has gone for 3 days without eating, but they can understand what it’s like to be in a difficult situation. And so if you can harness the passion for your mission, your volunteers will fall into place.

For us it has been the connection between volunteers, the connection between the families, because our volunteers don’t come there to get anything, they really truly want to give. And they could work and volunteer in many other things, and many of them do - they have a heart to serve - but I think when they see someone across the table from them or when they are putting their buggy out the door and taking their groceries to the car, they see themselves in someone that’s at the Pantry because the Pantry really is a reflection of our community. And many of the folks are one paycheck away from coming to visit us or they’ve been there, or when they were a child, or during the depression they missed meals.

So hunger is not something that’s talked about, but you can relate to it. So it is something that has drawn our families in, but once they are drawn in all our volunteers and our volunteer families, they get it and it keeps them coming back. And if they don’t get it, they don’t come back. There’s some volunteers who come because "I’m required to do it for community service." If it doesn’t click with them, they don’t come back. If they are there because they are high school students who need some national honor society hours, if it doesn’t click with them they won’t come back. But those that it does, I see the charity for the next generation; I think that’s really important that we allow children and teenagers to volunteer, because if we don’t harness that energy and plant the seeds we will lose the charitable spirit that exists.

Marcus: How many volunteers do you have on any given Tuesday?

Deann: Any given Tuesday we have about a hundred to a hundred and fifty, depending on what time of the year it is. Throughout the week we average about 200 volunteers. And throughout the year we probably have almost 2000 different individuals that lend their hands and hearts to Prodisee Pantry.

Marcus: That’s an enormous amount of people, and that’s an enormous amount of hours. So if you are listening to this as a volunteer, hats off to you because you are making a huge difference in our area. Are there any resources that have been helpful to you? You mentioned taking a class early on, but I’m looking more for any books that you’ve found helpful that you’ve read recently that may have imparted something to you or any resources that- whether it’s a non-profit industry type organization or something along those lines; anything that you’d mention?

Deann: I don’t have a lot of time to read right now. I’d love to be, but I do read along with my children with their schoolwork, and of course I read my bible, but a lot of the information I have gotten and how I’ve learned to do what I’m doing is by joining the Alabama Association of non-profits, and they offer trainings, they’ll have great articles; I do read non-profit currents, I read philanthropy magazines to keep in touch with what’s going on. The Alabama Association of Non-profits is really big on keeping us informed about IRS changes, state changes, laws that are impacting non-profit locally and across the country. So that helps us make sure that we are being good fiduciary agents and not going to get in trouble with the IRS; that’s really important.

Marcus: That’s a good thing, I would imagine so. I know you well enough to know that you want to make sure that because the money is coming from, often times, individuals or small businesses, or churches and not from some huge group that just has more money than what they would ever know what to do with that you feel this burden to make sure that that money is used to its wisest ability. I think hats off to you because I’ve been around you enough to know that that really is your desire, that you want to make sure that if you can buy just a little bit more food for these people that are in need then you will, and you want t make sure that all expenses and everything are really just tight.

Deann: Yeah we watch every penny, but we also know when it’s the right time to spend a little more and give someone a watermelon in time for Memorial Day, understand the value of a turkey at thanksgiving. The impact that certain foods have in people’s lives, sometimes it is worth seeing...

Marcus: It’s more than just a turkey or a watermelon...

Deann: Yes, and people go ‘Okay bananas;’ most weeks we give bananas, but everybody seems to like them and everybody gets excited about that. So there’s certain items that we are going to continue to try to provide to a lot of family and healthy produce is one of them. By working really hard and relying on local vendors and farmers to help us as well; we are averaging 37 cents a pound for produce. And I think for me that’s been my desire for the last couple of years. I didn’t want to just want to give food to people who are hungry, I wanted them to have healthy foods. Just because you are down on your luck doesn’t mean that your children need to eat junk food; they need healthy fuel in their bodies so that they can have healthy futures. And I think that’s part of the culture, part of Prodisee Pantry; people understand what we are really trying to help you but help you in the best possible way for the least amount of money. I think you hit that. Because if we can take 20 dollars and turn it into 120 dollars worth of groceries, that’s awesome. But we are not talking about 120 dollars worth of junk groceries, we are talking good stuff. And that’s what makes me happy as an Executive Director. We haven’t had to go down that path; we’ve always had enough families understand ‘Hey, it may cost me 200 dollars at the grocery store for my buggy, so why shouldn’t I help another family, for 20 dollars, have stuff that’s similar.”

Marcus: I think it’s amazing. I know that you don’t like to talk about yourself, but I’m going to force you to. So do you have any hobbies? And I’m almost laughing asking this because I know that you really don’t have any time for that, but do you have any hobbies?

Deann: I do, I do have hobbies. I actually enjoy sewing; I just helped my daughter redo her room and made a dozen pillows. I’m really wrapped up in my children when I’m outside the Pantry; so whether it be girl scouts, boy scouts, dance, I’m all over it. And I enjoy that, it keeps me busy; there is not a lot of down time in my world. When there is down time I do enjoy just like sitting on the beach watching the waves roil in, doing nothing else. And that’s what I do, I just walk over to the beach, sit in the sand and I don’t need and umbrella, I don’t need all that; just sit there. 

Marcus: it’s funny, I was telling my wife; the other day we were at the beach, and I was amazed at how just a little bit of time at the beach can completely change my mind set. That no matter what else is going on- I get stressed out about business and stuff like that- after an hour you come away refreshed. Give us a look at an average day for you; what does that look like?

Deann: School is back in session, so that means I get my husband and my two children that are still home to school, I have one in college now, so I’ll probably text him. And then I’ll get in my car, and by about 07:15 I’m at the Pantry and meeting a truck, welcoming volunteers, opening emails, the normal business type things and then start on the real work. And usually a volunteer or someone comes in, sit down and we chat for a while and a bit of work here and there. But that’s still very important to me.

And then I’ll come on Tuesday, ‘Okay, is there a grant to write today? What reports do I need to file? What information, quantitative or qualitative data do we need to put together?’ And somewhere in there I’ll get up and help a family who has come in for emergency needs, answer about a dozen phone calls from people calling in about a dozen different issues. And sometimes throughout the day another non-profit will call and ask a question or ‘Can you help us with this?’; because I’m helping Housing First right now with their point in time campaign. So you never know what a day is going to look like, and sometimes by about 2 o’clock I get to have lunch.

Throughout the whole time period there, the first thing that I do when I get to Pantry is make a pot of coffee, so I drink my coffee and chill, it’s time for lunch, whenever that happens. And then we welcome in our teen volunteers from an early release program, we try to give them something to do. And then I get back to all the emails that I was supposed to work on and all the letters that I need to write, all the grants that I needed to write, or phone calls I needed to return. And then by about 4 o’clock I’m helping a bit, but that doesn’t mean I’m done for the day because I probably have to go do something with a child, pick up some and take them somewhere.

Many nights I have something to do for the pantry; I’ll go visit a group, I’ll talk to a Sunday school class or a women’s group, or I’m at girl scouts/boy scouts dance. I always go home and cook dinner somewhere in-between there for my family. I try to make them healthy foods too. On Wednesday I go back to the pantry for work, and then I’ll run off and pick up another kid and drop him off and come back. So I don’t really settle down; by about 9 o’clock I’m toast and I’m done; I put on the 9 o’clock news and I say ‘Okay I’m done.’

Marcus: That’s it; lights out.

Deann: Lights out, I’m done. Some days it’s just very fast paced; there is always something going on, it is not boring. Some days it is overwhelming, but then I always just sit down and I think of Philippians 4:13, “In Christ I can do all things, he strengthens me.” So that’s what I do, and if it’s behind my desk, so whatever I have that day I just got to turn my chair around and go ‘We can do it, we can get it done,’ and we do. That’s it

 Marcus: I think that’s a great answer; after hearing that I will never want to be an Executive director.

 Deann: It can be a lot of fun, and it’s a lot of stress and it’s a lot of pressure.

 Marcus: I know it is.  I mean, there is one I have to say that I’m a little bit envious in that you see a real tangible- like when you touch somebody’s life, that’s a real thing, and there is something extremely awesome in that, so I think that’s really cool. Two things; tell us how people can get assistance from you.

Deann: Well it’s really quite easy to get help at Prodisee Pantry; if it’s not a Tuesday morning you just need to call in and we’ll make an appointment to assist you. We help families in Baldwyn County because the need is so great, and we are just one program. And so we ask families to call in and we’ll make an appointment to try to help them. But I always encourage them to come on Tuesday morning because that is the combination of all week’s work, where the fresh produce is there, the frozen meats are there; just the items that I want to share are there on Tuesday morning. And it helps us to gauge our families better; to know how many are coming that week, because I really hate somebody coming in on Thursday afternoon and there is not produce to give them. We are not set up and established that way; we are established for mass distribution on Tuesday morning. But I know that not everybody can time when they are going to be hungry, or some major crisis will happen in their lives, and we are willing to see them at other times, but Tuesday morning is our main distribution time, and I encourage families that need our help to come in on Tuesday morning, bring a photo ID, sit down and talk with us, and talk with the other programs on site, because through baby steps, no matter where someone is, we can help them move forward.

Marcus: And tell us how people can help you through volunteering.

Deann: Well many hands make light work, and I put out on Facebook and now on Instagram, and thank you Blue Fish for the new website, to make sure that we alert the community when we have something big; say where we can get fresh produce, where we have got to go pick it up, or we need sorters because we’ve been blessed with 4 tons of produce. We have those types of opportunities that are just instant in time. But we also work to have volunteers know that they can come, because without them we don’t exist. If we don’t have volunteers this program is done. So if no one shows up on a Tuesday morning to help us with distribution we couldn’t do it, we’d have to shut the doors. So I say if you are not out having fun or doing something with your family, then you should volunteer at Prodisee Pantry because we need people all week long; we need office help, if you can answer the phone nicely and you can take a few notes, we need you. If you can put together a buggy of food to help us take it out to a car, we need you. If you have the heart to sit down and listen to someone’s story and try to help them figure out a plan to move forward, we need you. You can mop floors and do dishes; any job that you can think of in a regular business, we need, from excel spreadsheets to office work, to janitorial services, to logistics, warehouse management. All of those things are done by volunteers. So if you have a little bit of spare time, and you want to help somebody, and help us raise awareness and help us erase the issue of hunger, we need you to come lend your hands and heart.

Marcus: Are there any specific needs that you have?

Deann: Well, at the end of October on the 24th is our big annual fundraiser, the Turkey Trot; it will be held at City Hall in Daphne. The race starts at 8 o’clock; there is online registration. If you don’t participate in the Turkey Trot and you want to help us, what we are saying is every runner eats a turkey, and so we have stepped out in faith and ordered 1100 turkeys just for thanksgiving. We anticipate serving over 1500 families with a complete box of all the fixings and meats, and everything. They can sit down to a regular thanksgiving that you see portrayed in the media, at school; so your family who is struggling does not have to feel like they are struggling that day. So between there and Christmas we will assist 2700 families with the regular food allotment plus special holiday food. So if you can help us, typically through a cash donation and your hands during that time period, we really need it. We will be very busy; we anticipate over 400 to 500 families each week on a Tuesday morning. So we’ll need more volunteers to handle more families in need. And we need more cash in order to continue to pay for and purchase the foods that are needed and to make sure that we don’t have to turn anyone away. It’s a very big project that we do in November and December.

Marcus: And I think, even more important at that time that people feel that they are cared for and loved. The statistics of depression and things of that nature surrounding the holidays tell the story; the people just feel disconnected, and I think some of that comes from the lack of food, not wanting to go out and put themselves in a position and stuff like that. So fundraising, obviously people can send you a check- I’m going to ask you the address here in just a second- but also we’ve kind of quasi partnered with you and that we’ve built you your new website, we’re handling some of your social media. We believe very much in what you are doing, and so we’ve also made it very easy for people to donate through the website. And so if you are so inclined and you can give any amount, obviously large amounts are much appreciated and little amounts are much appreciated too, but we recognize that not everybody can give huge sums of money. But if you just go to the website, it’s prodiseepantry.org, you’ll find a link there that you can go to the donate page and actually use a credit card to make a donation. Why don’t you tell us the actual physical address if somebody wants to mail you a check or if they want to volunteer? Because I recognize that volunteers are also extremely important. So go ahead and...

Deann: Well our physical address is on Highway 31 in Spanish Fort, which is officially Spanish Fort Boulevard. The address is 9315, Spanish Fort Boulevard, Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527. Or you can drop us a letter to P.O. Box 7403, Spanish Fort, Alabama 36577.

Marcus: And actually I just remembered; all that stuff’s on the website, so if they go to the website, just go to the contact page there or even on the donate page, all that stuff is outlined there as well. But I did want to encourage people that they are doing such an incredible amount of work with such a little amount of money, and their volunteers are just absolutely fantastic. So if you are so inclined to either volunteer or give funds, please do so; they could really use the help. And if you are somebody out there that is food insecure, as the term has been said earlier, don’t hesitate; this is a friendly group of people that wants to see you succeed, that wants to see you get back on your feet. I know it’s not an easy thing to walk in some place and ask for help, but you’ll find friendly faces that will care for you at the Prodisee Pantry. Deann, I want to thank you for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you’d like to share?

Deann: Oh, I thank you because I met you many years ago and you helped us with our first brochure, way back in the early days. It’s funny to come full circle in about a decade to watch the growth from this small little program, ran by volunteers, to this really big program still ran by volunteers, despite our growth we still run like we did on day one. And it’s not always easy to do that, but the amount of volunteers who share really their hearts makes this program the success it is. And so I want to take just a second and thank the volunteers and all the supporters who have supported us over all of this time, because without them we would not exist. And to thank God for all his blessings and for the graces, blessings he provides to so many.

Marcus: Awesome. Well, Deann, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey; it was great talking with you.

Deann: Thank you.