Karen Reed is now carrying on the work which she and her late husband, Bill Reed, and a group of faithful volunteers began many years ago. “We never dreamed it would be this big,” she says.
The Reeds have been the directors of the Gallatin Seventh-day Adventist Community Service Center since around 1983 when it was located on West Mill Street in an old two-story house. In those days it had only a handful of volunteers. The new service center was built in the spring of 1997.
“We never thought it would happen,” Karen says. “But God blessed the work and, one step at a time, it grew.”
Here’s a dateline for a few of those steps.
- In 1979 the first addition to the church was completed — a 40×110 foot building.
“We thought that would be plenty of room, but very soon we knew it wouldn’t be enough. Marie Toney, then director of the Green Hills Community Action Agency, asked us to take over distribution of the commodities for Daviess County. We made it work, until the loan of the first building was paid off.”
In 2007, the building that now houses the Daviess County Food Bank was added. That building was filled in a short time. A walk-in freezer and a walk-in refrigerator were added. Those, too, were filled in a short time.
- In 2011, the house on South Willow was purchased, across the street from the new food bank.
“We call it our apartment,” says Karen. “We don’t spend much time there.”
More space needed!
- In 2013 a storage barn was built onto the food bank building. Now more space is needed, and a new building is planned.
“Bill’s Barn,” in honor of Bill Reed who passed away this past February, will be built in his memory in one area of the Clay Street parking lot. The lot has been surveyed and the city has given its okay. Groundwork will begin in August. Jamesport Builders will begin construction on Sept. 7, and the 32×24 building will be an extension of the thrift shop.
“It will also be a man’s cave with larger items, furniture, etc.,” says Karen. “We needed the space. We were crowding out the dining hall.”
A plaque will designate the building in memory of Bill Reed, director of the Daviess County Food Bank from 1999 to 2019. It will be built with donations from Bill’s memorial fund, to start, along with other funds from other sources.
Seventh-day Adventist gives away thousands of free clothing items and thousands of pounds of food. Last year over 30,000 articles of clothing were given away, not counting bedding, shoes, miscellaneous items and books. There’s somebody there six days a week taking care of all of those donations. Food is picked up by volunteers, including a load from Wal-Mart every Monday which must be weighed. Shipments from Second Harvest and Wal-Mart arrive on the third Monday of each month.
Second Harvest out of St. Joseph gives the center good support. Recently, the center asked for 1,500 pounds of food and wound up with 2,500 pounds for 16 cents a pound. A pretty good deal!
In the first quarter of this year, the food bank received 2,165 pounds of food. The center received 15,991 pounds through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and 7,700 pounds through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). Donated food amounted to 4,787 pounds.
All of that food has to be inspected to check expiration dates, weighed, sorted, and put away.
The service center is a non-profit organization run by volunteers who work for free.
“We were fortunate to have a volunteer staff of around 30 at one time,” Karen says. “Of course, they didn’t all work at the same time, but had shifts doing the work that needed to be taken care of.”
It’s a busy place. The Seventh-day Community Service Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Wednesday. There are two entrances. The Daviess County Food Bank is on Willow Street. The Thrift Shop is on Clay Street.
The service center needs a male volunteer who can work Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“I depend on the men for things I can’t do,” Karen says, “like lifting big pallets of food.”
She needs to train a backup cashier who will work only on Wednesdays.
“I want to thank our volunteers,” she says. “They’re a great crew that I couldn’t do without.”
If you would like to volunteer, give Karen a call.
There are many denominations represented in the volunteer staff, Nazarene, Methodist, Christian, LDS, Baptist, Adventist, and non-denominational.
“Volunteering here is good therapy,” Karen says. “Funny things happen.”
None of the volunteers gets a paycheck. “Our paycheck will come later.”
Everything in working order…Please!
Donations from the community are welcome …usually. When you bring your donation to the service center, remember that they need things to be clean. Toys should be complete. Electrical appliances should be in working order. A lot of overflow is sent to Planet Aid. Please don’t bring things that are soiled or broken. The center already spends $90 a month for the dumpster to carry off those things that can’t be used.
“Today I sorted three bags and was not able to save anything,” Karen says. “The boxes of stuff not used would fill the dumpster. If it’s broken, cracked or dirty, please don’t bring it to us. Shoes that are well worn … we can’t give them away.”
Karen says the service center appreciates those who shop there. People come from all over the area, Bethany, Chillicothe, Cameron, Trenton, Hamilton, and all of Daviess County. The money made from the Thrift Shop is used for upkeep, and excess is returned to those in need in the local community.
A website for the Daviess County Food Bank is in the works and should be accessible soon. You’ll be able to see if the Center is open or closed and also check out any special produce available.
“We are here to help people,” Karen says.
Everybody misses Bill
“Bill Reed lived over here at the Service Center,” Karen says.
Karen was prepared to be a widow. Bill’s passing was not a shock. He had heart problems for a year and a half. He needed a new heart valve but he chose to just be careful and watch for signs that made him know that he needed help.
Their children planned a 10-day cruise to Panama for them earlier this year. They had lived in Panama 50 years ago; it was their home while Bill was in the military. Bill broke his arm taking stuff to Planet Aid just before the cruise. Karen thinks he fainted. He’d been having little spells of passing out because his heart just wasn’t pumping enough blood.
They came back from their vacation on Jan. 18. On Jan. 20 Bill was in the hospital.
“The hospitals at Cameron and then North Kansas City were a blessing all the way,” Karen says. “They tried everything. Bill didn’t want any more surgeries.”
Bill told Karen, “Let’s go home. I want to have a party.”
“We had a wonderful time with our children and grandchildren and nieces,” says Karen. He was able to come home for five days before he died on Feb. 3. Karen says she appreciates the Christian Church for allowing them to use their sanctuary for the services.
“He had a wonderful time at home,” Karen says. “He kept his mind and sense of humor up until the end.”
Now, Karen and her niece, Cyndi Jones, along with the staff of volunteers will continue to serve Daviess County with the food bank program and the thrift shop.
All money raised by the thrift shop is returned to the community for emergencies.
“If you want to help with Bill’s Barn, leave a little gift for Bill with the cashiers on Wednesday,” says Karen. “Thank you and God bless us all.”