SIDE BY SIDE: Couple spends time together volunteering
Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 7, 2017
Usually volunteers of non-profit organizations arrive singly, but on rare occasions a couple will volunteer together.
Kerry and Johnny Scalise currently volunteer their time at the Crossroads Food Pantry and are “the shining faces that make the place so warm and inviting,” Crossroads Food Pantry Director Sharon Bonnecarrere said.
The couple wedded in 1981 and moved from New Orleans to Henleyfield 10 years later. Then, several years after adjusting to the move, they started volunteering at Manna Ministries until a couple of months ago.
“At this point in our lives, it’s the least we can do,” Johnny Scalise said. “We’re not getting younger and it’s just our civic duty to give back as much as we can.”
Johnny Scalise has suffered from benign prostatic hyperplasia for most of his adult life, making it difficult to perform simple tasks, such as walking. He has also suffered from neurological problems since he was 40-years-old, but despite his setbacks, Johnny Scalise braves through the adversity, and gives back to his community nearly every day.
“I give all the glory to God,” he said.
Johnny Scalise said the best part about volunteering is building relationships with the people he assists. In fact, he said that’s what got him hooked.
“It’s an addicting feeling. You learn to love the people you help and it’s as if we are all one big family,” he said.
Before getting involved with Crossroads Food Pantry, Kerry and Johnny Scalise volunteered in the food program at Manna Ministries. When they were regular volunteers there, Manna Ministries, where they helped distribute food to needy families. Now, Manna Ministries delivers food to client’s houses, the couple said.
In addition to the food program, Manna Ministries also provides clothing distribution, a medical clinic and a Patient Assistance Program. Kerry Scalise contributed to the Patient Assistance Program, which is a drug assistance program that helps people without health insurance complete the proper paperwork in order to get the medication they need, either for free or at a reduced price, the Manna Ministries website states.
When Johnny Scalise began having more and more trouble getting around, the couple decided to continue helping their community at a closer organization to their home, discovering the Crossroads Food Pantry.
Kerry and Johnny Scalise work at the front desk, helping the first-time clients register for assistance while building relationships with more frequent clients.
“I can’t stop. When we decided that Manna Ministries was too far away, it never popped in our minds to just stop helping,” Kerry Scalise said.
When clients come in, they take a number and wait for their food donations to be collected by other volunteers at the food pantry. Johnny Scalise calls out the numbers when each order is ready to be picked up at the front desk.
Kerry Scalise helps clients with a number of things, including paperwork that needs to be updated at the beginning of each year.
“Clients always ask where Kerry and Johnny are if they are either not able to be here or are busy doing other things in the back,” Bonnecarrere said. “They make a huge difference here and always go out of their way to serve everybody.”
The Scalises also volunteer at the Heritage Day event at the Henleyfield Community Center, serving food to the elderly and making sure “everyone has a great time,” Kerry Scalise said.