Jordan Stanfill is young, with a fresh degree in history from Valparaiso University. But he'd be the first to admit that he still had a lot to learn. As an AmeriCorps member managing the food pantry at Housing Opportunities, Inc., Stanfill has come face to face with the needs in his community. "For a long time, I was able to live in a kind of college bubble," the 25 year old native of Goshen admitted. "Serving in a food pantry has definitely opened my eyes to the struggles that a lot of people go through in Valparaiso."
As manager of the food pantry, Stanfill accepts and inventories food, keeps records, and assists the people who turn to the pantry for food, paper products, baby items, and cleaning supplies. He's currently working on a special service project that will generate fresh baked goods from volunteers to give to pantry clients.
His calm kindness with visitors to Housing Opportunities- many of whom were once givers to the pantry who now find themselves in need- has not escaped notice. "Jordan has such a kind, compassionate heart," said Caroline Shook, executive director of Housing Opportunities. "He doesn't rush anyone, he makes people feel comfortable."
Stanfill has come a long way since his first service gig: ringing the bell for Salvation Army. "All I remember is that it was extremely cold and that I hated every second," he confessed. "I think I've grown a lot since then, and I have seen the need up close and personal. That motivates me to want to help."
As a member of the Porter County AmeriCorps Partnership, an outreach of United Way of Porter County, Stanfill is one of a cadre of people of all ages who are serving schools and nonprofit organizations in the region and living up to the AmeriCorps pledge to "get things done."
Today, Stanfill can say he has replaced bell ringing memories with new ones. "I love interacting with people in the community," he explained. "I have had the pleasure of meeting so many people and I enjoy hearing their stories. Just listening and learning has been an awesome experience."
Stanfill also acknowledges that he's picked up a lot of useful, real world skills that will translate to his job-seeking in the future. "I thought a year in AmeriCorps would be a good way to serve, as well as make contacts and gain job skills and experience," he said. "The program has exceeded my expectations in all these areas."
Stanfill also credited the nonprofit where he serves. "Housing Opportunities has been really enthusiastic about showing me every aspect of what they do and how they do it," he remarked. "That helps a lot."
While Stanfill works toward a graduate degree in public administration, the break from study to soak up real world experience has been life-changing, he said.
"It's pretty interesting that this kind of thing gives you more knowledge you didn't have before," Stanfill said, "but even more amazing how it changes your heart. It doesn't matter what you know if you don't put it into action." Stanfill pauses, then admitted, "Who knows. You might even see me ringing the bell again."
Food Pantry Facts & Stats
- Children are the pantry's most vulnerable client
- 45% of individuals served through the pantry are children under 18
- 1 in 4 children go to sleep hungry at night
- Food stamps do not cover the basic needs of toilet paper, shampoo, cleaning items
Number of shoppers served in the pantry over the last 3 months:
- January: 1544
- February: 1246
- March: 1301
You can help stock our pantry! Visit our website and look under Get Involved for a wish list.