As President George H.W. Bush is laid to rest this week, the country is remembering his dedication to serving others — it’s a message that lives on through a Springfield food pantry.
During his time in office, Bush recognized over 1,000 ‘Points of Light,’ volunteers who made a real difference in their communities and showed how “a neighbor can help a neighbor.”
In 1991, he wrote a letter to Edwin and Dorothea Mills, founders of Family Needs, Inc. in Springfield.
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The letter reads in part, “The true measure of any individual is found in the way he or she treats others — and the person who regards others with love, respect and charity holds a priceless treasure in his heart.” It continues on to say, “With that in mind, I have often noted that, from now on in America, any definition of a successful life must include serving others. Your efforts provide a shining example of this standard.”
Gloria Oliver, secretary at Family Needs, Inc., said they try to live up to those expectations every day.
“We don’t just give food. We don’t just give clothing. We give hope. We give (people) a place to come. We give (people) a place to feel like they’re of value,” she said.
Family Needs, Inc. has been serving the community in some capacity for close to 70 years. Oliver said she’s glad the Springfield spot can stand out on a map for a humbling reason.
“(The) President of the United States awarded something like that to Springfield, Ohio… That’s a lot,” she said.
On Tuesday afternoon, nearly 40 people filed into the pantry to fill bags with enough food to feed them and their families for three days.
Family Needs Inc. gives out food and clothes to families during the week, and also serves hot meals to those who may not get them otherwise.
Ella Barnes, the office manager with the food pantry, said sometimes they see 100 people pass through their doors on a daily basis. She said on average, Family Needs, Inc. helps 6,000 people in the community every year.
“If they come through the door and tell us they’re hungry — we will feed them and their families,” she said. “We try to be here to help meet needs from one paycheck to the next. Or if there’s not a paycheck, then to be there to help them eat.”
She and Oliver agree — everyone would be better off if they just put themselves in someone else’s shoes once in awhile.
President Bush’s funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Wednesday morning at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.