From left to right: Michelle King, Leona Glenn, Yvette Harvey, Scott Harvey and Hortencia Francis, all members of AmeriCorps-Operation Veteran Connect.

“Volunteers to Our Lady’s Pantry come from throughout the County and from all walks of life,” said Tom Bullaro, co-director of Our Lady of Guadalupe Food Pantry with his wife, Anita Bullaro.

“Many of our volunteers, in fact, are retired military or from military families and are now working members of AmeriCorps-Operation Veteran Connect (OVC). OVC is a program under the umbrella of Seniors in Service (SIS) out of Tampa. The special mission of this group, which includes volunteers over the age of 19, is to connect veterans, active militaries and their families to community resources.”

“Through this connection, vets can increase their knowledge about benefits and have access to care,” said program manager Glarisol Traspalacios. “Further, they can engage veterans in assisting their fellow veterans through volunteer service.”

AmeriCorps-OVC member Leona Glenn, who retired from the Air Force after 20 years, has served “all over the place,” she said. While looking for volunteering opportunities, Glenn chose the pantry at Traspalacios’ suggestion, and so Glenn has been going twice a week for over two years.

Then, she chatted up Our Lady’s Pantry with her good friend Hortencia Francis, who started working there as well. Francis, also an AmeriCorps-OVC member and retired from the Army, is on her second year there.

AmeriCorps-OVC member Michelle King, who is from a military family, learned about Our Lady of Guadalupe Food Pantry from friends who work at the pantry and has been there for over a year.

AmeriCorps-OVC members Yvette and Scott Harvey also have been working at the pantry for more than a year. Yvette retired from the Department of Veterans Affairs and is from a military family and Scott, a Gulf War veteran, retired from the Army after seven years.

They all enjoy the good work they do there, and Tom thanked them all for their dedication to serving others.

“Having the help of all of our AmeriCorp-OVC members at the pantry every week has made a big difference in helping us do everything that we must do to get the job done,” he said.

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People are always welcome at the pantry any Tuesday, Friday or Saturday morning if they wish to volunteer.

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