The Faith Temple Church Food Pantry in Spring Valley re-opened its doors on March 10 thanks to the hard work of two Nanuet Girl Scouts and volunteers. Erin Devoy and Helene Carey took on the task of helping the food bank return to serving the community as their Girl Scout Gold Award Project. They will be there again this Sunday when the pantry opens to accept donations between 1 and 4 p.m.
In November 2011, their Girl Scout Troop #40504 went to deliver Thanksgiving items to numerous food banks and discovered the Faith Temple Church had shuttered its food bank earlier that week due to dilapidated conditions. Devoy and Carey realized what an impact the closure would have on the local community and decided to look into what it would take to get it operational again.
Under the guidance of Troop leader Marie Maher, they prepared a project plan and divided it into two separate Girl Scout Gold Award projects. Even then, each Gold Award project was a large daunting set of tasks with many hundreds of hours needed to get the food pantry up and running. The small structure behind the church at 130 Bethune Ave was built almost a century ago.
After completing the initial plan, the two Nanuet High School juniors approached Home Depot of Nanuet and Pronto Repairs of Tappan to ask if they would offer a discount for the professional services and supplies needed. After seeing the girls’ proposal, Home Depot and Pronto Repairs representatives each asked to visit the food bank. They met with Food Pantry Director Bea Duncan and offered to donate thousands of dollars worth of supplies and volunteer hours.
Each girl took on the task of renovating one of the food pantry’s food two main rooms and they divided the project along those lines. Over the course of six months, both girls worked on restoring their respective rooms.
Carey tackled the refurbishing of the cold storage room which had a large refrigerator and freezer used for perishable items and breads. She arranged for and participated in removal of the old flooring, repair of dilapidated walls, installation of new lighting and donation of refrigeration appliances.
"We worked many hours over many months, and it was all worth it for that one minute when one of our first recipients smiled and hugged us and called us their angels," said Carey. "For a while this reconstruction was looking like it would never get done, but then Home Depot and Pronto Repairs came to the rescue. They were our angels"
Devoy led the work in the space dedicated to dry goods such as pasta, rice, and canned items. The walls, flooring and shelving had to be restored and she organized and took part in that work. Additionally, she oversaw the removal of the old heating system, its capping and replacement with a donated new portable unit to keep the food from freezing during the winter.
Devoy said. "I learned that we do not have to look very far to find poor families in grave need. It made me feel really good to help rebuild a program that feeds a local community that is right here where we live."
The girl scouts worked side by side with more than a dozen volunteer workers recruited by Will Rivera of Home Depot and Steve Carey of Pronto Repairs. They also replaced old broken windows in the pantry with brand new ones. The gutting of the rooms and restoration work took about two months
The Gold Award is the highest level of award given by the Girls Scouts, and is a level achieved by only a small percentage of Girls Scouts. Carey and Devoy are expected to receive their Gold Awards on May 20. At that time, they will join fellow troop member Christina Maher, who has already received her Gold Award approval.