Birthday Brigade

“I feel so much joy each time I sit down to create birthday greetings for our senior clients!  I clear the dining room table and bring out the supplies – cards, stickers, and pens.  I allocate about four hours to complete the cards for two weeks,” says Kate Wulf, a long-time volunteer at Loaves & Fishes. 

Kate served as a Client Guide for over two years.  She was a regular for the Wednesday afternoon food distribution – as were so many volunteers for that day.  She greeted many of the ‘regulars’ by name and was always delighted to help them select their food.  However, on March 17 that came to an end – with the arrival of COVID!   

In May, the Outreach team began calling all seniors who had not visited the pantry since March to confirm they were okay. Kate was delighted to help on this project – and she reported that many clients were not aware that the pantry was open.  She also noted that many clients wanted to chat – they were lonely! 

The Outreach team launched a second project at the end of the summer – calling all clients to whom we deliver food to determine whether they would be able to come to the pantry.  Again, Kate did a fantastic job – and again noted how talkative some clients were.  We chatted about her experiences – and she asked whether the pantry sent birthday cards to seniors or did wellness checks.  Her questions led to the launch of the Birthday Brigade.
We created a list of all clients age 70 and over – about 240 clients. We also have a list of clients 75+ which had about 100 fewer clients – but Kate opted to work with the 70+ group.  With boxes of birthday cards and lots of stickers, Kate went to work.  She prepares cards in batches and sends out 5 – 7 cards each Monday.  She says that decorating the cards is the most fun.  She is so organized – when she has decorated and addressed the cards, she puts them in a stack on her stairway – and just grabs a batch each Monday.  

We know that the recipients are grateful and we were delighted to receive a sweet thank you note when one of our clients came to pick up her food