Roger and Sandy Brenny

Finding Fulfillment in Volunteering

Roger and Sandy Brenny are both retired from many years work at General Mills. Roger worked for 42 years as a Logistics Manager in the Gold Medal Flour Division, and Sandy worked for 31 years in the Foodservice Division. Sharing a commute, they got used to spending two hours a day together in a small car, sharing the days events.

“You get pretty close with no interruptions except WCCO radio.”

Roger and Sandy have three grown children and one granddaughter that all live in Minnesota.

As they approached retirement they moved to Buffalo, and started looking for a church where they could be comfortable and get closer to God.

“After doing a search of the many wonderful churches in Buffalo, we settled on Zion as our worship home. The main overriding reason was that we wanted a ‘modern’ church with a large congregation but still wanted to feel connected! We have always been taught that if you did not become active in a church you would not feel part of that church so we decided to become involved.”

Sandy retired in 2005 and Roger retired in 2007, and they certainly did get involved at Zion.

“When we were working at General Mills, it was our total life! Retirement forced us into another stage of our life and we recognized that we needed to meet new friends and have new activities to keep us busy and fulfilled. As a result, we had few relationships outside of work. By getting involved at Zion, we have met and formed lasting friendships with many Zion members. We thank Deb and Rick Johnson for being the people that got us involved with Zion with leading by example and also having trust in us to become leaders within Zion and the community.”

Roger and Sandy try to live by Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed,” and their main passion has become their work with Zion’s Social Ministry Committee and some of our partner organizations.

The mission of the Zion’s Social Ministry Committee is to extend Christian compassion locally, and for Roger and Sandy that means getting involved in many organizations and activities where they have a mutual passion and they can “be the hands and feet of Jesus” and serve the Lord to help people in need. “This is what fills our heart and gives us rewards.”

Roger and Sandy use their different gifts to work together as a team, with Sandy as more of the ‘idea person’, and Roger as the ‘grunt’ to make things happen.

“Without a wonderful accepting, loving, helping partner, there is no way we could accomplish any of the above. Being retired and both of us ‘home’ 24 hours a day, we NEED to have similar goals, passions and activities to fulfill our life!”

Roger and Sandy have both been involved with food all of their lives—Roger grew up in a family that owned a grocery store, Sandy grew up in a family that owned a restaurant, both worked at a food company, and both like to eat! That led them to try to stop hunger at the local level, beginning with the Buffalo Food Shelf.

Love INC—Big Woods was formed after they were involved with the Buffalo Food Shelf and the Brennys saw a logical Christian relationship between Love INC’s mission of helping people in need and their own passion to serve.

“We were surprised with the amount of poverty even in our ‘small town’! You never think of poverty or homelessness in rural communities and how it affects the children. Almost 10% of the Buffalo population receives some help from Love INC and the Food Shelf.”

Roger is currently the Executive Director of the Buffalo Food Shelf and Sandy is the Board Chair for Love INC— Big Woods. Together they have participated with both organizations being involved in Adopt a Family, Community Meals, School Supply distribution, Holiday Baskets, gas card distribution, Coats for Kids, and others. This has allowed us to share our passion and keep an active retirement life.

In addition to their involvement with the Food Shelf and Love INC, Roger and Sandy have both been event planners for the Zionaires seniors group: “One of our most cherished connections is with the Zionaires! They have been an inspiration and joy to work with, interact, share, laugh with, and enjoy each other’s company!

They have also been Wednesday Supper servers, Sunday Hosts, and helped with the Lutefisk supper, newsletter mailing crew, and Meals on Wheels. Roger has also served on the church council and as treasurer of the congregation, and on the Finance Committee. Sandy has also served on the Zion Foundation.

They encourage every one to find some way to give something back:

“Many people chose to volunteer because of the personal benefits that volunteering has on them as an individual. Volunteers often say that the experience has made them a better and happier person. In most cases, volunteers also become more concerned and aware of the problems facing the world and community. Unpaid volunteers are often the glue that holds a community together. Volunteering is a two-way street, and it can benefit you and your family as much as the cause you choose to help. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, expand your network, and boost your social skills.”

If you are interested in joining the Brennys in finding a way to serve people in your community, they encourage you to contact them (their number is available from the church office), and they’ll help you find your place.

You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
Deuteronomy 15:10-11