Imagine worrying about where your next meal was coming from. The Food Pantry of Waukesha County helps ease the stress and fill the tummies of those whose life situations result in food insecurity.
Some 300 volunteers share their time and talent to help serve those in need. Pat Castelli is one of them.
Her role is “on the line,” handing out fruits, vegetables, canned protein, cereal and eggs to the individuals and families who visit the pantry. “I was nervous in the beginning. but it’s been really joyful,” says Castelli, who clearly relishes her time there.
One client told Castelli that she made him feel better when he visited. “You feel appreciated by the staff and the clients,” she says. “You feel needed.”
After initially agreeing to accompany a friend who volunteered at the pantry, the Town of Delafield resident has been a regular for the past 10 years, working two to three days a month. “This place is a wonderful place to volunteer,” she says.
“Pat is so thoughtful about how she serves,” says Karen Tredwell, the pantry’s executive director, who acknowledged that Castelli, as well as many of the volunteers, have a “passion for ensuring that the playing field is just a bit more level for everyone.”
Located at 1301 Sentry Drive, its third location since it opened in 1978, Castelli started with the pantry answering the phones and worked on mailings. She eventually wanted more client contact, which led to her current role.
In 2015, the pantry provided food to 9,000 unique individuals, 37 percent of whom were children. The pantry serves some 5,000 clients each month. “Not everybody comes as frequently as they’re allowed to,” explains Tredwell. Clients are allowed to come twice a month.
Retiring at 60 after her professional job was eliminated, Castelli, who turns 70 this year, has made giving back a cornerstone of her life. She volunteers at her church and she and her husband, Peter, have traveled to Peru to help a sister parish. The Humane Animal Welfare Society has also benefited from Castelli’s time.
Faith is the driving force behind her philanthropy. Rather than sending a check, Castelli prefers a much more direct line to helping people. “I just like to do things for people,” she says. “I feel good when I do.”