Press Release: First Annual Distinguished Service Awards

At the recent annual meeting of the Wakefield Interfaith Food Pantry, a new Board President and several new Board Members were sworn in and the first ever Distinguished Service Award was presented.

WIFP Board of Director Changes

After serving as the WIFP Board President since 2004, Julie Theriault stepped down from the position, but will remain active as the new Board Treasurer.  “As I reflect on the incredible changes I’ve seen over my years as President of this remarkable organization, I am continually amazed at the dedication and commitment of the Board, the volunteers, and the entire Wakefield community.  In particular, I’d like to recognize our Director of Operations, Maureen Miller, whom I like to refer to as ‘the glue that holds it altogether’,” said Theriault.  Miller manages over 50 regular volunteers who organize the programs, serve the clients, sort the food and stock the shelves.

When Theriault took on the Board’s top leadership post, the pantry was serving about 100 households each month.  “The need for the pantry’s services continued to grow over the years and skyrocketed in 2008, when the bottom fell out of the economy. Today, we serve nearly 350 households monthly – that’s over 800 individuals, including children,” she reported. One of the biggest challenges for Theriault as President of the Board was overseeing the pantry’s move in 2010 to a larger location at the Americal Civic Center after many years in their home at the First Baptist Church in Wakefield. Since the move last summer, WIFP has distributed over 150,000 pounds of food to Wakefield residents in need.

Theriault recognized two Board directors who retired after many years of service:  Mary Joyce, who co‐ chaired one of the pantry’s largest programs, the Holiday Baskets, and who will continue to work with pantry operations as a member of the Advisory Board, and Kristen Mitchell who played a key role as Treasurer and who will also join the Advisory Board.  Theriault also welcomed incoming President, Wendy Dennis, as well as two new Board members, Elaine Guaetta and Linda McManama.  They join the current Board members:  Vice President Joanne Turco, Secretary Beth Hendriks, as well as Susan Bernhard, Flo Calore, Jane Good, Judy Gordon, and Sue Worden.

Dennis served as the WIFP Director of Operations from 2001 – 2005 and has continued her involvement on the Advisory Board since that time.  She now returns to a leadership position as the Board President. Dennis, a Wakefield native, is committed to making Wakefield a better place to live – volunteering with the Wakefield Climate Action Project and the Wakefield Farmers’ Market. Said Dennis, “I am blessed in that I am getting to stand on some great shoulders as I begin my work as Board President. I look forward to strengthening the pantry and its mission through increased Board development, community outreach, and new approaches to management and volunteerism.”

Presentation of the First Distinguished Service Award

One of the highlights of the 2011 Annual Meeting was the presentation of the first ever WIFP Distinguished Service Award, which was awarded to Pat Tine posthumously.  From 2002, when she joined the pantry Board, right up to her passing earlier this year, Tine was a tireless, soft spoken, kind, and gracious volunteer.  She was the congregational representative for the pantry from St. Joseph’s Parish, worked in operations, and co‐chaired the highly successful Holiday Basket program.  Her involvement with the many children who made contributing to the Holiday Baskets their tradition created a lasting legacy. The Award was accepted by Pat’s loving husband, Sebastian. “People like Pat don’t come into your life every day and all of us at the WIFP are grateful that she was part of our world,” commented Theriault.

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