Paying it forward: Local man on a mission

The Gospel Mission Food Pantry has been somewhat of a haven for Marietta resident Bob Harlow since his wife, Gloria, passed in 2010 after battling cancer. You can find him there almost every day of the week, helping in any way he can.

Question: How long have you been with the food pantry?

Answer: A little over three years now, since my wife died. This is my first time volunteering. I would have been involved before that, but I wanted to take care of her. Now I’m here about 30 hours every week.

Q: The pantry was robbed of food and other goods during a burglary late last month, but the community has stepped up to help re-stock the facility since then. Has that kept you busy?

A: Oh yeah. I’ve probably worked 50 hours during the last week or so. The community really came together to support the pantry. I think we have a lot more friends out there than we ever knew.

Q: What motivates you to keep volunteering at the pantry?

A: I really enjoy it here. We help a lot of children, but I also like being able to help the senior citizens. They’re on a limited income and it can be very hard on them, and they really appreciate the help. Many depend on the pantry-we see a lot of them at least once a week.

Q: What are some of your duties as a volunteer?

A: I help wherever I can. Sometimes we have items donated that may need some work, so I’ll do some repairs. When we moved into this building it was a large open area with concrete floors. I helped with framing and building the walls.

Q: Do you think the need for help with food, clothing, housewares and other assistance is growing at the Gospel Mission Food Pantry?

A: I think so. We’re serving an average of 130 to 140 families every week, and we’re seeing new faces all the time. This week we had at least 10 new families come in. But we’ve always had enough food to help everyone-God has always provided. And we’ve had people who needed help from the pantry in the past get back on their feet and now they help support the pantry.

Q: The pantry is totally operated by volunteers?

A: Yes, we have several and the work here is very rewarding. Volunteers come and go, but we can always use the help. As (pantry director) Candy (Waite) always says, our reward will be out of this world.

Sam Shawver conducted this interview.