Making Her Passion Her Life
Having worked at Manna eight months now, I’ve befriended Manna’s joyful, close-knit staff. On my first day as Nutrition Educator, nearly every welcoming handshake was accompanied by the almost regretful comment that I wouldn’t get to meet Miss Blanche today because she was off celebrating her birthday. Thus, “Miss Blanche” became a presence for me before we even met. Within moments of our eventual introduction, it was clear Miss Blanche has a reputation for a reason: she is sassy, witty, fabulous, and unforgettable.
Today marks the tenth year that “Miss Sunshine”, Blanche Hall, has worked at Manna Food Center. Eleven years ago, she was a volunteer. Today, she is the matriarch of Manna. Volunteer Manager, Marie Kozlowski, explains the legendary nickname, “Miss Blanche’s name at Manna is ‘Miss Sunshine’ because she brightens every day with her compassion for our clients.”
As a food distribution staff member, Miss Blanche greets clients signing in to receive food boxes, and works with volunteers to pack our open food boxes. “Working with Blanche has made my eight years with Manna a joy,” says Administrative Director Angela Whitmal. “Blanche is both a loving and firm presence at Manna. She maintains order in the food distribution process and lets the clients know how much we care about them at the same time. That balance creates a positive experience for our neighbors who are receiving Manna’s services.” Despite losing dear friends to illness, especially former Manna employees Karen Goldberg and Anita Emerson, her commitment to others before self is unwavering.
Miss Blanche has been seeking ways to serve the community her entire life. Years ago, she was instrumental in advocating for a local park to be preserved for kids in the neighborhood, a location where she later served meals to these children.
In her many years of serving others, she has seen numerous changes at Manna Food Center. “When we made the move to this bigger space on Gaither Road, it was a big step for us—a much better space. We’ve grown quite a bit, and all for the better. We have a bigger staff and more clients than ever before,” says Miss Blanche. “I have a lot of respect for the people Manna serves. In my years, I have seen individuals who were big donors lose their jobs and become clients.”
She only permitted me to tell our clients her age, not the public. Let’s just say she began her employment here at an age many hope to retire. She plans to be at Manna at least five more years, as long as her health permits, she says. And that will make her close to… well, let’s just say it rhymes with “lady”.
“Each year here gets better and better, we have new and better ways to serve the community,” Blanche says with a smile. “There is nothing I would rather do than be a part of this team.”