Food Shelf Volunteer

Dianna grew up in a small farming community in central Illinois, where she was a member of the local Methodist Church in Illinois, attending weekly worship, Sunday school, church, vacation Bible school, church camp, and Sunday night youth group.

Because the church was in a very small town, we knew all of the attendees, and the kids were those we went to school with and saw daily. This provided a very warm, comforting environment for building a strong faith-based life.

Dianna’s favorite hymn is “On Eagle’s Wings” with lyrics from Psalm 91.

My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust … under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield

I find this song running through my head, for seemingly no reason at all. I remember the first time I heard this hymn, thinking how comforting and reassuring the lyrics were.

Dianna was married in a Lutheran Church, and joined Zion when she moved to Minnesota in 1976. She taught Sunday School and helped in the nursery when her children were young.

We knew others who were active in Zion so it was a comfortable, welcoming place for us to be.

Dianna has a son, Christopher, who lives with his wife and three children in Albertville; a daughter, Sarah, who lives with her husband and two daughters in Minneapolis and a step-daughter, Kari, who lives with her husband and two children in Cologne, MN. Her fondest church memories are participating in her children’s and grandchildren’s baptisms and her children’s weddings.

All were joyous celebrations of love and growth in a church community. Knowing that my children have grown up in a religious faith community brings me joy.

Dianna has a bachelor’s degree from Illinois Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Illinois. After 38 years working in the areas of adoption, mental health, child protection, community based services and administration, she retired seven years ago. After taking a couple of years off to travel and get revitalized, Dianna began looking for volunteer opportunities at Zion and around the community. She serves on one of the Wednesday night supper teams, with the Altar Guild, at the Blessing Closet, and is a regular volunteer at the Buffalo Food Shelf.

For me, serving those in need can come in many forms…..some subtle and some overt. I don’t think we know when simply saying a kind word, sharing a smile, or assuming the best of someone can have great impact and meaning. Each of us has been “in need” at some point in our lives. The challenging parts of life are probably the most challenging parts of anyone’s faith journey. Critical life events happen that we can’t explain or understand. Getting past these events can be the most challenging.

Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. Psalm 50:15

Buffalo Food Shelf is one of many concrete service resources for our community. During my employment life I was very aware of the important role that food shelves played in that community and thought the local food shelf was something I would like to be involved in after I retired. Getting involved with the Buffalo Food Shelf was easy. I heard about the roles that volunteers can play and chose to assist those who came to shop for food. Managers were very welcoming and the choices for hours to volunteer were flexible and easily adapted to my schedule.

The Buffalo Food Shelf meets an important supplement of food items for residents of Buffalo and Montrose. Local merchants and individuals in the community donate generously to the food shelf and help individuals feed themselves and their families. During the summer, additional food items are available to families with children. Additional assistance is provided with holiday baskets for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.  Isaiah 58:10

This ministry is personally very rewarding and the hours are flexible. As with most volunteer experiences, the volunteer gets much more in return than they give. Volunteers know how appreciative individuals are to have the food shelf available to them and to their relatives. Generally, I volunteer at the same time every week. Many of the shoppers share something about their personal journey and express such gratitude for the assistance they receive from the Food Shelf. I enjoy seeing the shoppers as well as the other volunteers. Each time I leave, I feel good about the hours I have spent at the Food Shelf.

The Buffalo Food Shelf has a variety of options for volunteers, including assisting shoppers on the first Monday of the month; every Tuesday and Thursday evening, and every Friday morning. Volunteers also help pick up food, sort food donations, and help with events like the “Green Bean Open,” Holiday Train, and grocery bagging at Cub Foods.

Zion’s Social Ministry Committee is currently working to set up an evening or two each month for ‘Zion Volunteer Night’ at the Buffalo Food Shelf. Volunteers would serve about once every 6 weeks on a Tuesday or Thursday from 5:45-8pm. Contact Roger Brenny (sandyrogerbrenny@charter.net or 763.682.2979) for more information about this or any of the other volunteer opportunities at the Food Shelf.

Beyond Zion and the Food Shelf, Dianna lives out her faith in the community by striving to be a good neighbor and friend to others, serving on a Human Services advisory committee and as an election judge, and volunteering at her grandson’s school.

As much as I am able and for as long as I am able, I hope to participate in the “world” around me in a positive way.

Dianna also cherishes every minute that she gets to babysit her grandchildren, and travels to Illinois several times a year to visit with family still living there, including her mother, sister, and brother-in-law.