This post is part of our Humans of LWR series, which seeks to provide a glimpse into the lives of the people who take part in our mission of ending poverty, injustice and human suffering.
Brenda Giles was a high school senior when she started a work-study with the Brethren Center, in New Windsor, Maryland. She started in September of 1971. Loretta Wolf was a recent high school graduate when she started working in 1976. Both say that working in the warehouse facility, which receives and coordinates the distribution of LWR Quilts and Kits, has been extremely gratifying.
Present for a Mission
Both women have held various roles in their time at the warehouse – Brenda has worked in receiving and clothing operations while Loretta started in receiving and administration before becoming the warehouse manager. In their decades of service, both have found favorite parts of this work. Brenda loves working directly with the people who sent or deliver materials and with volunteers who come routinely. Loretta says she loves that the warehouse is a space for people to come together as people and to be present for a mission.
The warehouse hosts on average three volunteer groups a week to help unload, organize and pack Quilts and Kits. “We want volunteers to leave with a good feeling. That they have done their part,” said Loretta. The warehouse’s friendly atmosphere brings repeat volunteer groups from all over. There are several groups from Pennsylvania who volunteers twice a month every other month and even some from the Midwest, who take “working vacations” at the warehouse on the way to destinations like Washington, DC. Brenda and Loretta like to think of volunteer groups as their extended family.
Those volunteers join their actual families, which have of course grown and grown up through the course of their careers. Brenda’s eyes light up as she talks about her daughter and 11-year old granddaughter. Loretta also has a daughter, who is an emergency room nurse, and a son who works a construction project manager.
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No Item Left Behind
Although their main responsibility is to prepare the gifts you give to be shipped overseas, they do so much more than that. For example, they explained that sometimes Kits arrive incomplete or damaged. They make sure those gifts don’t go to waste! They collect and sort the items so that they can make complete Kits from all the leftover materials.
Recently, they set aside more than 50 such Kits and brought it to our attention. We were able to provide them with a grant to buy missing notebooks to fill the Kits and sent your gifts on their way.
Thinking about Brenda and Loretta’s service, and the care they take to ensure your gifts are put to good use, I am reminded of a line in a letter Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German Lutheran pastor) wrote to his family during his imprisonment in Nazi Germany: “Although I am utterly convinced that nothing can break the bonds between us, I seem to need some outward token or sign to reassure me. In this way material things become vehicles of spiritual realities.”
A Community of Caring
We give thanks for Brenda and Loretta for their decades of faithful service, their quiet leadership, and their dedication to helping connect us to people living in poverty around the world.
Take a moment to learn more about all the people involved in making, shipping and delivering LWR Quilts – and be inspired!