A report on activity by the Loaves and Fishes organization showed relatively even finances but a big drop in the number of people served during 2010. Officers for 2011 were also elected during the annual volunteer luncheon held Tuesday at the First United Methodist Church in Monett.
During 2010, Loaves and Fishes spent $49,275.37 and took in $47,418.05 to cover costs, reported Treasurer Phyllis Whitley. Co-chairman Larry Shanks credited donations, memorials and the annual Celebration Tea fundraiser with boosting funds to a strong level.
Loaves and Fishes delivered 7,130 hot meals to shut-ins during 2010, a slight drop from 7,262 in 2009. The service is presently delivering to around 25 people on weekdays, down from around 35 in 2009.
The average cost of a meal is presently $5.58, Whitley said, down from $5.78 in 2009. Recipients are still asked to pay $3 for each meal.
"It would certainly help if we had more people to deliver to," Shanks said. "More meals lowers the cost to each person."
The slate of officers for 2011 brought back the previous year's leaders with one change. Mary K. Scott asked to step down as co-chairman. Succeeding her is Bill Roberts.
Other officers are: Darlene Kelley, vice president for volunteers; Phyllis Whitley, vice president for communications and treasurer; Dorothy Cawthorn, recording secretary; Janie Bates, financial secretary; Emma Jean McCormick, packer chairman. Margaret Whitlock reviewed the duties of each office and swore in the leaders.
Additional board members are: Margie Gripka, Ray Spree and Rev. Tony Martin. Daily chairmen are: Mary Spivey, Dorothy Moore, Jane Patton, Peggy Costley and Mary K. Scott.
Guest speaker for the luncheon was writer Sally Reinhardt. She defined "volunteerism" then declared her talk's title, "This is You."
Reinhardt said every day involves action and choices. One can choose to be winsome or "show gratitude for friends we've met in life's crowd," as she said in her original poem, "Our Ships in Life." Reinhardt recalled waking agitated one day and found from Biblical direction that "volunteering can be a good remedy for grumpiness."
Volunteering has opened a number of unexpected doors. Reinhardt recalled offering to be a mentor even though she thought she did not like working with children. She ended up connecting with a five-year-old in a school she had attended as a youth in St. Louis and using experience she had as a mother to help the child's mother tap other much needed resources to help another child.
"God has opened doors longer than we have ignored them," Reinhardt said.
Learning to ride a motorcycle at 51, Reinhardt and her husband ended up starting a national club with 1,200 members. Bob edited the newsletter, creating a writing outlet for Sally. A trip 10 years ago led the couple to Monett and more unexpected doors opened.
Reinhardt recalled sharing a comment with a man at a restaurant one day that made him smile. The thought of the memory making him smile again provided a spark to share the experience with others.
"A smile and happiness is never out of place," Reinhardt said. "Life can be like Play Doh. The more you work with it, the better we get at molding."
She concluded with another original poem, "Answering the Impulse," then added, "Each day is a gift to be treasured and shared. God has no hands but yours to work, no voice but yours to speak."
Dinner for the occasion was prepared by Loaves and Fishes regular cook, Melissa Hammack.