DiCarlo aims to elim­i­nate hunger lo­cally

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By SARA NEW­MAN snew­man@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @in­dy_­com­mu­nity Faces of Com­mu­nity is an oc­ca­sional se­ries ded­i­cated to high­light­ing the sto­ries of those who con­trib­ute mean­ing­fully to the Charles County com­mu­nity. If you know some­one who should be fea­tured

Brenda DiCarlo some­times wishes her work wasn’t needed.

As the di­rec­tor of the South­ern Mary­land Food Bank, a pro­gram of Catholic Char­i­ties of the Arch­dio­ce­ses of Wash­ing­ton, D.C., she would ide­ally like to see no need for job ti­tles like hers. But in the mean­time, while that need ex­ists, she’ll be work­ing and vol­un­teer­ing with the hope to make a dent in the prob­lem.

“I have the per­son­al­ity of a care­taker and I don’t ever re­ally think I’m car­ing enough,” DiCarlo said of her drive be­hind her work. “We would all love to be put out of work, but it’s the fact that we can’t not work that brings us back ev­ery day.”

DiCarlo, 49, be­gan vol­un­teer­ing with Catholic Char­i­ties about 28 years ago and has held mul­ti­ple po­si­tions around the South­ern Mary­land re­gion since. From run­ning yard sales to so­cial work with the or­ga­ni­za­tion, she be­gan over­see­ing the food bank 12 years ago.

Her goal at the food bank was to be­come mo­bile so she could meet clients where they were. She re­al­ized that goal when the Meals of Hope Mo­bile Meal Truck was ac­quired, what she de­scribed as a “four year dream come true.”

“We don’t want to en­able [clients] but en­cour­age them to en­able them­selves,” DiCarlo said of the pro­gram that is de­signed to pro­vide ac­ces­si­ble meals to those un­able to travel to sta­tion­ary re­sources. “A lot of our clients say they feel left be­hind. Fi­nan­cially, they can’t keep pace with how the world op­er­ates now. I think they’re be­ing pushed aside and we’re here to re­mem­ber they’re there.”

In ad­di­tion to the mo­bile meals, the food bank op­er­ates Snack Sak and Se­nior Sak, pro­grams de­signed to “fill the gap of hunger” among low in­come chil­dren and se­niors. The Seeds of Hope Com­mu­nity Learn­ing Gar­den be­hind the food bank not only pro­vides pro­duce for the mis­sion but also serves as an ed­u­ca­tional el­e­ment for chil­dren to learn gardening and phi­lan­thropy.

De­spite her ac­com­plish­ments, DiCarlo says she al­ways feels like there’s more work to be done.

“I have in­som­nia and I don’t sleep well so I’m al­ways think­ing about new projects and what else we can be do­ing. I al­ways think there’s some­thing that’s not be­ing done,” DiCarlo said.

DiCarlo cred­its her co-work­ers, Theresa Mur­phy, out­reach co­or­di­na­tor, Ge­orge Mat­tingly, ware­house and re­tail man­ager, lead vol­un­teer Marcy Mur­phy – and then there’s An­drew Davis, ware­house as­sis­tant and Dex­ter Thomas, CDL driver — with be­ing able to fa­cil­i­tate the food bank’s var­i­ous pro­grams and ef­forts. She cred­its her father who passed away 11 years ago with in­spir­ing her strong work ethic.

“We’re more than co-work­ers here, we’re fam­ily. We’re all from this area and we know the need here. We all know our roles and can do our work with­out much fail­ure and that’s a tes­ta­ment to [the staff] go­ing along with me for the ride, lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively,” DiCarlo said.

“It’s more than a job, it’s what we do,” Theresa Mur­phy said of her work at the food bank. “We give back and we help oth­ers and it’s some­thing we want to do.”

“The day I look at this as a pay­check, as em­ploy­ment and not a life­style, is the day I won’t come back,” DiCarlo said.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY SARA NEW­MAN

Theresa Mur­phy, out­reach co­or­di­na­tor for the South­ern Mary­land Food Bank, hands Di­rec­tor Brenda DiCarlo food to place in a bag ready to hand to clients that come into the food pantry.

Dex­ter Thomas, CDL driver for the South­ern Mary­land Food Bank, works in the ware­house of the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Theresa Mur­phy opens a door to the Meals of Hope Mo­bile Meal Truck, a ser­vice that pro­vides ac­ces­si­ble meals to clients un­able to travel to the South­ern Mary­land Food Bank off Iron­gate Drive in Wal­dorf.

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