December 28, 2006
Eve Marcus: Soul of the Food Pantry
Marcus, 70, first became involved in the fall of 1984, when she read a newspaper advertisement seeking volunteers for the Food Pantry, which had been founded more than a year earlier as a result of the Valley Interfaith Council's Task Force on Community Emergency Needs and in response to the 1982-83 recession.
"I could do that," thought Marcus, a Studio City homemaker and mother of three girls. She began working Mondays at the First Christian Church of North Hollywood, packing bags, interviewing clients and pitching in wherever needed. And she has been doing that ever since.
Early on, Marcus was asked to serve as Monday captain. She has continued in that capacity while also taking on the responsibility of volunteer director four years ago.
As director, she runs the monthly board meetings; oversees staffing, donations and grants, and fields myriad phone calls. She also coordinates volunteers for the yearly National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive and organizes the Food Pantry's annual Interfaith Service of Thanksgiving.
But to the other volunteers, she encompasses much more.
"Eve is the soul of the Food Pantry. She just knows that people cannot be hungry and we need to do whatever is necessary," said Joy Grau, a member of St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church in Studio City and a 15-year volunteer.
The North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry was founded in 1983 by five women from two synagogues (Temple Beth Hillel and Adat Ari El) and three churches. It is now a coalition of 10 congregations in the East San Fernando Valley.
"We ask people to come once a month but we never turn anyone away," Marcus said. These days the largest segments of their clientele, mostly from the East San Fernando Valley, are the homeless and the elderly. There are also some "rare but heartbreaking" instances of those who fit both categories.
For Marcus, the benefits of her work are the lasting friendships she has made over the years and the discovery of hidden abilities, like public speaking. She credits her cardiologist husband with handling the computer work.
The worst problem is the aging of the volunteers, who now range from late 50s to early 90s and who often can't do the heavy lifting that's required. Recruiting new volunteers, with so many people working in full-time jobs, is difficult.
Marcus attributes her upbringing with drawing her to volunteer work. She was raised in a modest household in Brooklyn where, although imprinted by the tragedies of World War II, she somehow always felt fortunate.
"I had good parents, food and love," she said. "I want other people to enjoy some of the comforts I do."