Barbara O.

Barbara O’Grady (on left)

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in New York in a family with a strong concern for workers and the downtrodden. My professional background is in higher education (teaching English) and international development, which provided me an opportunity to work on educational programs in the developing world, specifically Africa and Asia.

Why did you get involved originally, what made you want to volunteer and why Martha’s Table?

It seemed only logical, after retiring from a non-profit development organization in Washington, DC, to continue assisting those in need. For years my husband and I, as well as the organization for which I worked, contributed financially to Martha’s Table, but I thought that becoming physically involved with daily food preparation and monthly pantry day activities would be even more valuable. I felt fortunate, therefore, when I was accepted as a Thursday volunteer.

Is there a moment that stands out in your mind about your volunteer experience, with another volunteer or with our staff?

Martha’s Table, in general, has taught me a humbling lesson about assisting those who often face overwhelming challenges everyday. So many of those standing in line on pantry day, for example, respond happily to a greeting as simple as “Good morning.” Others are so pleased when they are able to help out by folding cardboard boxes or sweeping the ground around the garage door. It often takes so little to make someone feel that he or she is a dignified human being with a purpose. One time a man in line was so grateful for what Martha’s Table was doing for him and others that he asked me how he could apply to be a volunteer and give something back. These instances stand out in my mind more than anything else.

Beverly Jones (on right)

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am married with two daughters and four grandchildren.  My husband retired a year ago from NIH (and now he goes out on the van at night for Martha’s Table!) and I retired six years ago from a 25 year career in international development.  I have been in the same book club for over 30 years, and have now, in my retirement taken up pottery at Glen Echo’s ceramics studio.  I enjoy gardening, traveling, and cooking.

Why did you get involved originally, what made you want to volunteer and why Martha’s Table?

I was a member of St. Columba’s Episcopal Church back in the ’80s when the founder of Martha’s came to speak to us about its origin.  So I’ve known about it forever and the good work it does.  When I retired, I was looking for something that contributed to the community.  And I was looking for a way to get to know a part of Washington that I did not know after all these years living here.

Is there a moment that stands out in your mind about your volunteer experience, with another volunteer or with our staff?

I love the opportunity of pantry days to interact with the people who come to pick up groceries.  There are small moments of bonding, connection and humor that are very special.  I also love the kitchen staff!  And finally, I’m so proud of the focus on healthy meals for the children and fresh fruits and vegetables for the pantry day recipients.