The Lobby Ladies: Together in Service

The Lobby Ladies: Together in Service

At Martha’s Table, volunteers are the driving force behind our work. They help us deliver on our mission and stand alongside our neighbors every single day. MT volunteers are made up of people from all walks of life who regularly come together in a commitment to supporting strong children, strong families, and strong communities through Martha’s Table. Earlier this month we sat down with three such volunteers who, at Martha’s Table, are famously known as the Lobby Ladies. Watch the interview to learn who the Lobby Ladies are and why they serve! A transcript of the interview can be found below.


Ms. Earnestine: My name is Earnestine Gaines.
Ms. Pege: My name is Pege Gilgannon.
Ms. Canada: My name is Karen Canada.
All three: And we’re the Lobby Ladies!

What do the Lobby Ladies do?

Ms. Canada: We work in the lobby!
Ms. Pege: We give food out in the lobby!
Ms. Earnestine: We distribute food to the people that come into Martha’s Table.
Ms. Pege: Because they can’t come all the way in because of COVID so we’re in the lobby waiting to greet you and have you come in and get your food.
Ms. Canda: [Other volunteers] back there bagging the food and they’ll bring it out to us and then we in the lobby. We pass it on to people with extra stuff they might have.

How long have you been volunteering at Martha’s Table?

Ms. Earnestine: I came, I think, it was the last part of 2019. I brought someone here. And I talked to the people at the market. I don’t remember who it was. It may have been Pege because it was in the morning. May have been Karen because it was in the morning. And they said anybody can do it. So then I didn’t stop until I was able to sign up and volunteer. And I’ve been doing it ever since.
Ms. Pege: In the beginning, I was actually, I can remember going putting, making the bags together because I thought that was safer because remember we were so scared to look at each other. And then one day they asked me if I could go out to the lobby and I thought I don’t want to touch anyone, but once I went to the lobby I never came back. I just loved it so much. And then I met these two! And it kind of all just worked together.
Ms. Canada and Ms. Earnestine: We wouldn’t let you go back.
Ms. Canada: That’s what it was. 

Why do you volunteer at Martha’s Table?

Ms. Pege: Kim [R. Ford] always told us if you have it you gotta share it. Remember? She always told us so that’s the spirit of Kim.
Ms. Earnestine: That’s what it’s all about, people helping people. See we give food but if we give them a part of our personalities, then they get more than the food and it’s what keeps them coming back too.
Ms. Pege: It keeps us coming back too.
Ms. Canada: You never know how we can brighten somebody’s day. You never know what people are going through.
Ms. Earnestine: Exactly.
Ms. Canada: Greet them with a smile, you know they appreciate it. That’s what I try to do.
Ms. Pege: I didn’t even realize if Martha’s Table knows how much the community, I think, thrives by your recipes. People come in here and Earnestine will have a recipe and they always talk about what they do with the food. Like they aren’t microwaving Lean Cuisines like me. They’re out there eating healthy food.
Ms. Canada: Right.
Ms. Pege: I think the whole area has benefited.
Ms. Canada: And they bake stuff and brought it in for us. A man brought in some cabbage. Oh, that was the best cabbage. He put little pieces of meat in it.
Ms. Pege: Oh that was good.
Ms. Canada: It was, it was. And the lady made the banana bread. They be feeding us pretty good.

What are some of your memorable MT moments? 

Ms. Pege: Do you remember the time that the woman came in and she had to go to a funeral? Her father died and the funeral was on Saturday and she had no clothes. Was that John who went upstairs and looked for the clothes? They went upstairs and got some clothes for her to go to the funeral. Can’t help but just precious moments.
Ms. Earnestine: And that’s what keeps us coming back. People like that. People who will work with the community to get what they need. 

What would you say to someone who was interested in volunteering at Martha’s Table?

Ms. Canada: We have people coming who want to know how to volunteer. I tell them to go on marthastable.org. We can always use volunteers that’s what I tell them. I tell them that there are positions. They can work upstairs with the clothes or with the food out in the lobby, wherever. So that’s how I tell them to get started.

Interested in volunteering at Martha’s Table? Sign up here.

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