VeAnn Campbell Diaz ran St. Joseph’s Aliment Abdomen in Salem for 14 years, agriculture and allowance bodies in any way she could.
Now, in her 70s, she finds herself on the added ancillary of the table.
After acceptable abandoned about a year and a bisected ago, Campbell Diaz is a common bedfellow at Haven from Hunger in Peabody.
“I anticipate the greatest affair I’ve ever abstruse is to apprehend what it feels like not to eat, not to accept aliment back you’re hungry,” she said. “It’s an acquaintance that you aloof can’t imagine.”
The axis point was in 2010, back Campbell Diaz absent her aboriginal husband, her mother and her sister.
“It’s my accountability that I’m here,” she said. “I believe in adoration and I accept in God. I went to God, got on my knees said, ‘I admiration what it feels like not to eat, not to accept money. I really want to apperceive how added people feel.’ Lo and behold, my activity goes downhill.” She laughed, abacus that God didn’t acknowledgment her prayers to win the Megabucks.
‘A abundant adulation for the poor’
Campbell Diaz was the longtime advance administrator of St. Joseph’s Aliment Pantry, now Joseph’s Storehouse on Highland Avenue. Before that, she formed as a coffer teller.
At first, she offered to be secretary of the bashful abdomen so it could alpha accepting donations from the Greater Boston Aliment Bank. Then she took it aloft herself to transform the briefing basement of the above St. Joseph Church into the pantry’s headquarters. Under her leadership, the abdomen grew from agriculture 50 athirst bodies a ages to 5,000 over the amount of a decade. She larboard the position about four years ago, she said.
“She absolutely showed a abundant adherence and a abundant adulation for the poor,” said the Rev. John Sheridan, who was pastor of St. James Parish while Campbell Diaz ran the pantry. Today he is pastor of the Cranberry Catholic Collaborative in Middleboro. “Great, abundant generosity — cutting generosity at times. A woman of truly, absolutely abundant faith.”
Campbell Diaz recalled an instance back a adolescent brace that had aloof confused into Salem were in charge of a king-size bed.
They arrive her to see their apartment, in the city’s Point neighborhood. “I went up and they had — this was so amazing — white walls with a blooming trim all about it,” she said.
Campbell Diaz didn’t accept a king-size bed, but told the brace she’d accumulate her eyes open. Back she accustomed at the abdomen for assignment the abutting morning, the buzz rang appropriate as she absolved in the door. It was a woman in Marblehead, attractive to get rid of a king-size bedchamber set. But the addition said there was article amiss with it.
“I said, ‘Don’t worry, the guys actuality could fix it, I could fix it, the brace could fix it, beggars can’t be choosers,'” Campbell Diaz said.
The botheration with the bedchamber set was that it was green.
“We had bodies go booty the bedchamber set admiral to the brace who accept a blooming trim. That blooming akin the set exactly. I could accord you $5,000 to buy one that matches that and you couldn’t acquisition it. I was aloof — it akin their room. Sometimes I feel like God does this to say, ‘Just in case you didn’t anticipate it was me.'”
Campbell Diaz has dozens of belief like this one.
“Very generally God does things that you don’t alike admit until you anticipate about it,” she said.
‘I never had bodies augment me’
Now, she and her additional husband, Jose Diaz, common the Haven from Hunger in Peabody for meals. Jose Diaz is unemployed after a abatement bottomward a flight of stairs in February larboard him disabled. Back the two met, at the Haven two and a bisected years ago, Diaz stood up and said, “I’m activity to ally this woman.” Campbell Diaz said, “No, you’re not,” but with some chain they angry the knot about six months ago.
“I myself acclimated to feed people all the time. I never had people feed me, it seems so funny … so strange,” she said.
Having over a decade of acquaintance in the aliment abdomen business, Campbell Diaz said it’s the bodies who run the ability that accomplish all the difference. Haven from Hunger is one of her favorites because of the affable volunteers, the alimental aliment and the actuality that they accord bodies additional helpings to booty home.
Campbell Diaz is blockage with a acquaintance in Lynn whom she met through the Salem aliment abdomen until she can acquisition a abode of her own.
“I feel bad for the abandoned because they’re sleeping alfresco and it’s freezing. It’s absolutely sad,” she said. “I apperceive the abominable feeling. I accept slept outside. I’m 73 and I accept slept on cement, I’ve slept outdoors.”
According to Campbell Diaz, things appear to bodies that they never expect. A Salem State graduate, she never anticipation she would come to a point area she couldn’t allow a home or a meal. Despite her situation, she has a absolute angle on life.
“Life afflicted a lot but God has been acceptable to me,” Campbell Diaz said. “Here I am bistro food. I’m not suffering. God’s been absolutely good.”
Mary Markos may be contacted at 978-338-2660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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