Feeding hunger, one meal at a time

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:52

    MONROE-Geraldine Cirrincione sees a different side of this growing area from where she works at the Community Food Pantry in the basement of the Monroe United Methodist Church. There are those who are old or who are out of work. Others are disabled or divorced. There are single parents and those "who just need some help getting by," she says. They come from as far as Chester and Washingtonville and as close as Highland Mills and Harriman. "The Monroe-Woodbury area is looked upon by many as an upper-class town," says Cirrincione, a volunteer at the pantry for five years and is the director of the program. "We have the regular 30 families but we have new walk-ins every time. Some we see only twice a year, during Thanksgiving and Christmas. "We don't turn anyone away, no matter where they are from or what their religion is, or even if they don't have a religion, we welcome them." The pantry is officially named "The Community Emergency Food Center," but most folks simply call it the Monroe Food Pantry. This other side of Monroe is also populated with people from many walks of life who donate their time or what they can to help Cirrincione help others. People like Cheryl Abernethy and Barbara Cullum, Nora Fields and Diane Pioli, Sue Pratt, Sabine Eder, Marty Hala, Pauline Weinert, Donna Hansen and Bob Jankelunas. There are also young people like Daniel Fugazot, who's 13, or Kyle Eder, who's 14, or Sarah Fields, who is 16. "Kids from Sacred Heart come and help out and kids from the Boy and Girl Scouts help out, not to mention the 12-15 adult volunteers who help on a regular basis. There are also some great, dedicated teenagers that help out, too," Cirrincione says after telling you nearly everyone's name. "I would not be able to do this without all of them." The food pantry is open during the second and fourth Saturday of every month. However, Cirrincione is at the church five-days a week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. She says that anyone who needs help just needs to call her. She also brings food to those who need it and cannot wait until the pantry is next open. "We don't judge, we are there to help and that's what we will do. It makes me feel so good inside, especially when I see their happy faces, sometimes I cry." You believe this modest woman when she says that. She'd prefer that the volunteers get the recognition. ""Just name and talk about them," she says. "If it's too much space, don't mention me in the story at all, to save space." But what she did want to say was this, and it was for everyone: "It's important to remember the less-fortunate this (holiday season) and all year, because it makes you realize how fortunate you are for what you have. Just the idea of helping other people who don't have it as good makes you feel good inside." Geraldine Cirrincione sees a different side of Monroe. If you need help, have questions, want to be a volunteer, or want to donate food or money to the Monroe Community Food Pantry, contact Geraldine Cirrincione at: 783-6371 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The pantry is located at 47 Maple Avenue East in Monroe.