Nancy Feldner is a volunteer with the Columbia Baptist Church’s Spend Yourself Food Pantry ministry in Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia. As a professional chef and baker, she first came to Spend Yourself to provide cooking and nutrition presentations for those served through the Food Pantry and saw a way to meet additional community needs. Six years ago, she initiated God’s Closet (El Armario de Dios), which provides clothing and supplies to Food Pantry clients, especially those with infants and preschoolers.
She assists hundreds of families each year, volunteering more than 100 hours each month to help meet the needs of low-income families. She delivers clothing, food, and personal care products to homes and to the homeless, provides transportation for medical procedures and appointments, visits those in the hospitals, and follows up with families after they no longer need the Food Pantry or God’s Closet. Nancy is widely known in her community and highly regarded for her expertise and compassion. In the past twelve months, she has personally assisted more than 600 families in Bailey’s Crossroads.
Whether counseling about job possibilities, providing tools and equipment for work, or supplying appropriate clothing, Nancy’s efforts seek to support people in becoming self-sufficient. Because she has modeled compassion, organization, and vision, many others in the church and community seek to volunteer with God’s Closet, to donate clothing and other items, and to communicate the benefits of the program to potential donors and recipients.
Nancy invests in the lives of those she serves. “Nancy’s superpower is that she listens,” says Amy Pototsky of the Columbia Baptist Spend Yourself Food Pantry. “She takes the time to get to know people and learn how she can help.” Earlier this year, when a preschooler of a Food Pantry client family fell from an apartment window and was severely injured, Nancy made sure that the family had the food, clothing, and supplies needed, as their attention had to shift from work to caring for their child. She visited repeatedly in the hospital, even traveling to another hospital in Philadelphia, when the child was transferred there for additional care. Previously strangers, the family and Nancy now know each other well and the child is learning to walk again.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, God’s Closet had to be closed to Food Pantry clients so Nancy organized a socially distanced system for people to pick up items in the parking lot. When families could not come to pick up their bags, she would deliver to their homes. Families received needed supplies and felt dignity and worth. Her creativity and commitment to go beyond the usual efforts meant that families could receive need items, while really meant they received hope.
Nominator Gregory Loewer, Pastor for Missions at Columbia Baptist Church, says, “In my 44 years of pastoral ministry, I have never witnessed a volunteer so committed, creative, and compassionate.”