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UNION CENTER, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – After starting her own food pantry in 2018, her five-year tenure is coming to an end.

Barbara Beck says, “This part will be over for me in December, and I will miss it, but I will feel like I did something well.”

Barbara Beck came back from Christmas vacation in 2016 with a glimmer in her eye and a new determination. Even while on vacation, she was volunteering at a food pantry and says that seeing the reaction from the people who were coming in, inspired her to provide that same service to her community back home.

Barbara Beck says, “We’re not going to see people go without food. We’re going to do everything possible to get food to people.”

Beck pitched the idea of a pantry to the pastor at Union Center Christian Church; had a meeting with CHOW, picked out an area within the church, and in February of 2018, the operation was underway. “When we started our pantry, we had no expectations, and that was good because they sat here some weeks, and nobody came. And there would be four or five volunteers here and nobody came.”

Beck says that the x-factor in terms of spreading awareness about the pantry is through word of mouth. She has to serve anyone who comes through the door.

Whether it’s a regular, or a newcomer, Beck will always remember their name, and extend an invite to return every month.

Barbara Beck says, “I was raised in a faith-based home. And you never knew who was going to be at our dinner table, that was just the way it was. And we were taught to give. Of yourself, of yourself, of your money, whatever you can.”

Beck says that the pantry provides meals to roughly 80 families each month.

Volunteer at the pantry, Joann Murphy says that over the years, Beck has formed such strong relationships with the clients, that some are coming in solely to speak with her, and the food is just a perk.

Joann Murphy says, “A lot of times, Barb will be in one of the other rooms or will be down here getting food, and the first thing out of their mouths, where’s Barb?”

Barbara Beck says, “We learn these people’s names and we talk to them like we talk to our friends. And they tell us crazy stories, and we say how is so-and-so, or how’s the new baby, and I think it makes people very comfortable.”

Even though the pantry is volunteer work, Beck says she clocks close to 30 hours a week.

Barbara Beck says, “I do the shopping, I do the paperwork, I do the stocking, whatever needs to be done, we do. I am tired by Tuesday night, but I have energy to make it through this because this is something that I love to do.”

Beck believes that the pantry is more than something to keep her occupied, it’s her calling.

Barbara Beck says, “It is part of my faith. I believed that God called me to open this pantry. And because of that, I don’t get tired, and I don’t get worn down, and if it’s a calling, it becomes a passion, and if it’s a passion, you have the energy to do it.”

Beck says that within the next year, she will hopefully have a younger retiree trained and ready to assume her position and all of its responsibilities.

Until then, Beck will keep moving forward, building relationships with her community, and growing the pantry for the next stage of its life.