On Saturday, May 18th, supporters of the Durham Community Food Pantry, a program of Catholic Charities, gathered for an evening of festivities at “Nourish & Flourish: Celebrating 5 Years of Caring for Our Neighbors.” The intimate evening was dedicated to reflecting on the impact and success of the food pantry over the past five years.

Lisa Perkins, Catholic Charities CEO, welcomed guests with a heartfelt message, highlighting the program’s remarkable achievements. “We have served over 266,000 individuals since our doors opened five years ago!” she proudly announced.

The success of the Durham Community Food Pantry is a testament to the incredible support from the community, including parishioners, students, and local businesses who have generously shared their time, talent, and treasure.

Sue Williams, Program Director for the Durham Community Food Pantry, continued the program by emphasizing the pantry’s importance. She spoke about the initiatives designed to increase accessibility, such as offering evening distribution hours and operating a monthly Mobile Food Pantry in Hillsborough.

Expressing her gratitude, Sue acknowledged the staff and the over 200 dedicated volunteers who ensure the food pantry runs smoothly each week. “They are passionate about helping everyone, and it shows in their friendly smiles, caring demeanors, and genuine interest in the neighbors they serve. Their heartfelt approach leaves our families feeling valued, seen, and heard,” Sue shared.

The evening featured moving testimonials from guest speakers Patrick O’Meara, Director of Experiential Learning at Insight Colearning Center, and Larry Lawton, who shared his personal experience with the food pantry.

Patrick discussed the positive impact volunteering at the pantry has had on his students, enhancing their learning and personal growth. As a token of appreciation, he presented Sue Williams with a t-shirt from the Colearning Center.

Larry provided insight into the challenges faced by those accessing the pantry’s services. Despite holding two bachelor’s degrees and previously living a stable life, he found himself in need. A friend directed him to Catholic Charities, where he met Sue Williams. She helped Larry create a plan for stability and ensured he had the food he needed. Larry’s story concluded with a powerful message of kindness and encouragement for all to emulate the compassion he received.

Sue Ann Glower, Catholic Charities Board Chair and pantry volunteer, shared her personal experiences. “I have witnessed this pantry nourish our friends in need, helping them to flourish in their everyday lives! I cherish the days I spent volunteering, creating nutritious food boxes, and getting to know the individuals we serve on a personal level,” she said.

Following the program, attendees followed self-guided tours through various stations, including the Cart Prep Station, Pantry Prep Area, Warehouse, Diapers and Personal Care Items Area, and the Reverend Joseph G. Vetter Family Enrichment Center. Guests viewed before-and-after photos, showcasing the transformation from an empty warehouse to a beacon of hope for families in need.

As the Durham Community Food Pantry looks ahead to five more years of growth and service, additional support is essential. Individuals are encouraged to learn more about the Durham Community Food Pantry, volunteer opportunities, and ways to donate by visiting www.CatholicCharitiesRaleigh.org/DCFP.