Home Commentary Finding a Real Gem and Lifesaver During the Pandemic

Finding a Real Gem and Lifesaver During the Pandemic

By Robert Kershaw

It was 2020 in Barre, and the pandemic was just getting started. Stores, coffee shops, and restaurants were closing one by one. People were reluctantly beginning to wear masks in public places. I even saw people with masks on while alone in their cars. There seemed to be an atmosphere of unrest and uncertainty, politically, locally, nationally, and internationally. I started to recognize similarities to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, when people blamed segments of the population or culture and formed assumptions on how the virus started. Of course we did not shut down everything during the AIDS crisis, but there was a lot of fear of the unknown. 

That summer I found out I might not be working for some time. I had heard of some people with no income, and the government stimulus was not in place yet. Luckily I had my pension and Social Security pay to cover most of the monthly bills, yet I found myself dipping into my savings account to cover extras — such as food, gas, and heat — which became another issue come winter. I had no heat or hot water for some time as no service calls were allowed by the oil companies. Does this sound familiar? Everyone was being affected. Even the travel industry was affected when all flights were canceled. 

Those two years were rough, and by the summer of 2021, I had no savings and the government stimulus checks amounted to a fraction of my income before the pandemic. It was happening to everyone, but it still hurt.

A couple of families near my house were much worse off than me. One of them told me about a church called Enough Ministries run by a young pastor who had a good handle on the gift of giving and self care. At this point, I had a bit of a problem with the self-care part. Years ago I worked with the homeless programs in New York City, and HIV/AIDS programs, which opened my eyes to the needs of others who had much less than me. I decided to check out the ministry as it had sort of a food shelf thing going on. Knowing a few families who needed food, I decided to pick up some boxes of the essentials — milk, sugar, etc. — and while there, I picked a couple of apples for myself. As I did that I bumped into Tom Sperry, a volunteer at Enough Ministries. After confessing to him that I snuck a few things for myself, he told me that they make no judgment on anyone, and if I felt I needed something, I should take it. That made me feel a bit better, but I still did not like taking things that could go to others. 

I began picking up some things I could use, and soon. I heard the name ‘Dan’ floating around; he was the coordinator of this amazing gem in the middle of Barre. I had had some experience in programs designed to help and support the community, so I wanted to meet him.

Dan Molind, the senior pastor of Enough Ministries, happened to be in the basement of the church where the behind-the-scenes activity happened. I introduced myself, and he welcomed me with a big smile and slight southern accent. He told me about the mission statement and how it started in 2014 on Summer Street. They quickly outgrew that location and opened up the program in the basement of the church. They now have dinners for anyone who could use a hot meal and some good company. They open every Tuesday and Thursday at noon. The food pantry is open 24/7, first come, first serve against the back wall of the church. As the name implies, there is usually enough. It has a huge closet with vegetables, bread, and canned goods and a refrigerator/freezer for all the perishables. It is on the honor system, and all are welcome. 

To find a gem like this in the middle of Barre at a time when people really needed help was truly a blessing. Places like this are needed in the community, whatever your political beliefs. I also found other places that offered community support, such as the Hedding Church, the Salvation Army, Capstone Community Action, and others. I cannot imagine surviving the pandemic the way I did without Enough Ministries; they are a vital part of our larger community. I also would not have the pleasure of knowing many of the amazing people who take advantage of their services and have fostered many friendships through Enough. 

I’m sure there are many more people in our community such as Dan who are valuable assets. I just haven’t met them all yet. 

Robert Kershaw is an author who has been a caregiver for the last 63 years and has written a book about that 63-year journey. He lives in Barre and works in Montpelier. Enough Ministries is located at 24 Washington Street, Barre, and, according to its website, is a “contemporary, Bible believing, evangelical church which seeks to impact our community for Christ. Our vision is “pursuing Christ and making Him known.” To learn more about community meals and food donations, go to enough-ministries.org/garden-of-feeden