15 years later: Jean’s volunteer story

She first got involved because of the invitation of a friend. 

“I got started at StreetWise by going on a mission trip with Hebron Church. I went with a friend Janice, who’s volunteered for years at StreetWise, and she invited me to come with her to help pack the Thanksgiving baskets,” Jean said. 

“I came and did that, and I’ve been here since then – I enjoyed it so much! Over the years, I’ve worked a little in the clothes area, but working in the marketplace is more of my full time job now.”

Jean and her husband Arthur have been married for 61 years. They’re enjoying life together as retirees and great grandparents – but they’re anything but idle. They’ve spent the last decade and a half giving their time as volunteers at StreetWise.

StreetWise has been making a difference for low-income families since its beginning. But tough times have come in waves throughout the years – just like anywhere else. 

Even when things were difficult, though, StreetWise’s dedicated volunteers – like Jean – have been an integral part of continuing to provide help for those who need it. 

“When we first started out volunteering, it was very, very difficult,” Jean said. “We had one tiny box that we put a few [food items] in, but Arthur and I would go and buy different things either from the food bank or from the grocery store to donate them to help fill boxes.”

At that time, StreetWise’s supply of food was made up almost entirely of canned goods, though Jean recalls having distributed some meat. Now, StreetWise supplies an array of canned and dry goods, bakery items, meat, and even fresh produce. 

“I want others to know that we do the best we can with what God’s given us and try not to let anything go to waste,” she said. “We were blessed in that more and more product just kept coming, and we just started growing, growing, growing.” 

While hard times still come, StreetWise is blessed to see prayers answered – even ones related to very specific needs. 

“Some of the most satisfying times, to me, were when we needed something, we’d pray for it specifically, and it would come in,” Jean said.

“Once, a certain amount of money was needed desperately for something. [After praying about it], I believe it was at the end of prayer time – somebody knocked on the door, which is unusual, because we weren’t open yet. But they knocked on the door and gave us a check for the exact amount that we needed. That was major!”

Jean feels blessed by her experience at StreetWise and hopes that others will join her as the organization continues to move forward, leaning into its purpose.

“I love the idea of helping people [this way], and you make a lot of good friends, lifetime friends, at StreetWise. They get to depend on you, and you depend on them. We really care about each other, and it’s not fake; it’s genuine concern,” Jean said.

“It makes me happy to see how God has blessed not just the ministry but the people who work here, too. StreetWise has gone through some transitions, but the purpose of everything has stayed through it all.”