Recognition surprises Loaves and Fishes Thrift Store volunteer

Joanne Bartlett never dreamed she would be named Volunteer of the Year

January 27, 2011|By JANET HEIM |
  • Joanne Bartlett was selected 2010 volunteer of the year for her work at Loaves and Fishes Thrift Store in Hancock. The store is part of the Interfaith Service Coalition.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

HANCOCK — Joanne Bartlett had been volunteering at Loaves and Fishes Thrift Store in Hancock for a little more than a year, when the annual volunteer recognition dinner rolled around in December 2010.

Bartlett looked forward to a nice evening out, never dreaming what was in store for her.

When Bartlett was awarded the Volunteer of the Year award, all she could think of was those who had been volunteering for years before her.

"Yes, ma'am, I was speechless.... Everyone has been here longer than me," Bartlett said.

She said it's the first time she's ever received such a recognition, and the plaque hangs in her bedroom, where she sees it every day.

The thrift store is an outreach ministry of the Interfaith Service Coalition founded in 1989 by a group of Hancock churches when they realized they couldn't meet the needs of the community independently.

Loaves and Fishes was opened in 2002 as a way to raise money for the ISC. It helps the community by providing a place for people to donate gently-used clothing and furniture they no longer need, which, in turn, allows the nonprofit organization to sell items inexpensively, with the proceeds going to the ISC.

"The work she (Joanne) does allows us to fund outreach," said Debbie Cohill, executive director of the ISC.

Bartlett said her work at the thrift store began as a way for her to work through a difficult family issue by helping others. Prior to that, she would come in to the store to purchase books, so she was familiar with what the ministry provided in the community.

Most weeks, Bartlett works in the store six days a week, which is every day it's open. She washes and dries the donated clothing, hangs and tags the items and works the floor several times a week.

"This store helps a lot of people. It's rewarding that I'm trying to help some people," Bartlett said.

Previously, Bartlett worked as a state home health aide. She has two daughters, one son who is deceased, and four grandchildren.

The Hancock native and her husband, David, have been married 47 years.

In addition to Loaves and Fishes, Bartlett said she has volunteered with the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, Unit 26, for more than 30 years.

Through that organization, she visits veterans at the Veterans Administration Center in Martinsburg, W.Va. and at local nursing homes.

She is also a member of Orchard Ridge Church of God.

"I truly enjoy working here," Bartlett said of Loaves and Fishes.

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