Talk to the hands

Hands of Hope Food Bank

Paul Gademsky is one of the operators of the independent food bank Hands of Hope.

Paul Gademsky is one of the operators of the independent food bank Hands of Hope.

Photo by D. BRIAN BURGHART

Hands of Hope Food Bank is open from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays at 295 Gentry Way, Suite 19. Operation Feed Back is on Tuesday nights from 6:30-8 p.m. For more information, check out http://www.handsofhope.us or call 284-8878.

I always start with good intentions. It may be my one saving grace. So, when I showed up at Hands of Hope Food Bank Saturday morning, I was there to volunteer. Yes, I expected to conduct an interview, and I planned to write a Filet of Soul about my time there, but I also wanted to pack some boxes or carry something heavy or clean a toilet. I get a good feeling from helping people, and I didn’t see any reason not to kill three birds with one stone—and I have nothing against birds.

But you know about the road to hell. So anyway, I didn’t devote my body to helping anyone, but I did prevent one of the busiest bodies from working, and I even, somehow, managed to take half the brains of the operation out of the action to tell me the history of Hands of Hope Food Bank. But such is journalism and the good intentions of journalists.

Paul and Elaine Gademsky are the brains and a good part of the brawn behind the Hands of Hope Food Bank. While I’ve never taken advantage of a food bank, there was a time in my life where I would have if a place like Hands of Hope had existed. Instead, I let my friend go to the Food Bank to get us some chicken in a can and other prepared goods. But it kept us from starvation or crime and allowed us to use our 98 centses for more Miller Lite 40s.

I’ve written about Food Banks enough to know that Hands of Hope is different. For one, the only information you have to provide is your name and the number of people in your family. For two, a family must have $5 for the shared maintenance fee.

And what do you get for $5? A huge box that includes dairy, protein, breads, sweets, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. It’s three times the amount of food that I paid $66 for at Costco the night before. That Saturday, they were giving eight loaves of whole grain bread, bagels or Rainbow white in whatever form the participant desired.

That’s about what I know. Hungry people don’t have to fear that their names have been added to some database because they asked for help. Also, at most, a person will have to wait two hours to get some food. Everyone who’s helping is a volunteer. The Food Bank is open for everyone at 10 a.m.-noon on Saturdays (even Christmas or New Year’s Day), or for veterans and emergency personnel only for Operation Feed Back on Tuesday night at 295 Gentry Way, Suite 19, 6:30-8 p.m.

I got Paul to tell me a little bit about how the Hands of Hope Food Bank came to be in this hidden little spot on the backside of the small business mall on the corner of Gentry and Yori ways.

Paul said he got his inspiration to feed needy people back when the dotcom bubble burst. When his internet and network security business died, he was forced to go to a food pantry for help. “It was a hard pill for me to swallow,” he said. “From the time I was 14, I worked. After that, I got involved with feeding people.”

He went from dotcom entrepreneur to bread line pretty quickly, starting with a church-based bread ministry to distributing food at the Bug House (that old firehouse off Wells) to working with the Food Bank of Northern Nevada to a storage shed to the current spot (with the $5 shared maintenance fee), which—even with the refrigeration truck, refrigerators and freezers—the group is on the verge of outgrowing.

The crowd moves quickly through the line, with the many children getting a special treat, and some of the parents getting a special box because of special needs for the family. I feel good as I leave the Hands of Hope Food Bank. Maybe I didn’t mop a floor, but this is the kind of operation the community needs to know about.

“It may be humbling [to need help],” says Paul Gademsky, “but it’s not humiliating. At least, that’s kind of how we try to do it.”

Music: None

Sermon: None

Fellowship: Welcoming