HOLLY, Michigan - Forty years ago, Barb Renusch along with her husband and young family, began attending St. Rita’s Roman Catholic Church in Holly. When the priest at the time noticed that she didn’t work outside the home, he volunteered her to work at the church.
Always feeling like she was part of a larger church family, Renusch has been volunteering ever since, never once looking back.
Like most service workers, Renusch’s attitude remains selfless and humble. With a few years under her belt and straight forward no nonsense approach, those who know her understand that she is a very loving and caring person.
“This isn’t my food pantry – I’m not the boss,” Renusch said, adding that her flock works together as a team. “St. Vincent de Paul at St. Rita’s Church is supported by the people – Father asks the people to bring food, and they do.”
With a rich history in Holly and a tireless commitment of the church’s members and friends, the volunteers of St. Rita’s have continued to overcome the personal struggles and difficulties at hand to make impossible circumstances more tolerable for others.
Renusch described how St. Rita parishioners give time, money, food and other items so that those in need can visit the food pantry on Tuesdays, getting the supplies they need for themselves and their families. When asked for an interview, Renusch said she had to laugh.
“I don’t do anything – I’m just there,” she said. “It’s the people of St. Rita – I ask them to help or donate, and that’s all I do. The people are unbelievable.”
As for her technique in soliciting the help of others, Renusch said her method is a gentle one.
“Just think about it – if I was bossy and tried to tell people what to do, I would lose everyone who works with me,” she said. “You have to be a companion, not a boss – you’re here to help – that’s it.”
One important aspect of helping others, Renusch says, is enabling the recipient to maintain their dignity in the process.
“Often people are embarrassed, ashamed or even humiliated that they have to ask for help,” Renusch said. “It may be the first time they’re out of work and need help and don’t feel at all comfortable in asking for it.”
Renusch said those working in the pantry understand the need for discretion and confidentiality. “You won’t hear a volunteer talking about your personal business with you or anyone else – I know what it’s like, and I feel for these people.”
Raised during the great depression, Renusch understands completely how hard times can fall on anyone. Without the willingness and goodness of the people who continue to support St. Rita, many could suffer, she said.
“That’s right – we’re all volunteers, and no one pays us, but God does,” Renusch said.
Visit St. Rita’s website for more information on the church and all of the services it offers.
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