Thurman Greco, who served Woodstock’s Good Neighbor Food Pantry for many years, has retired from her volunteer post so she will have time to finish writing a book, take care of an ailing friend, and start a new food pantry in the Boiceville area. And, although she is now in her 70s, she still has a day job.
Within the food pantry, “Thurman wore many hats,” said board member Guy Oddo, and therefore the administration is undergoing a reorganization process in response to her departure. Oddo is one of two co-coordinators taking over Greco’s official role.
“The pantry was taking about 60 hours a week of my time,” said Greco, who signs off each of her letters and emails “Peace and food for all.” “I love it. I was happy to give it every minute I could. But if I drop dead tomorrow, the book will not get published. It’s a good book. If I walk away from the Good Neighbor Food Pantry, it will flourish — it’s been on autopilot for a couple of years. We have all the volunteers trained, and it’s running very well.”
Greco works as a reflexologist, healing clients through application of pressure to points on the feet, and a practitioner of reiki, or hands-on healing, with a specialty in end-of-life reiki. Her book, Reflexology for the Spirit, deals with “the spiritual component of our afflictions,” she said. It’s almost ready to go to her publisher, The Turning Mill, run by Lucy Swenson of Palenville. “She publishes the books of healers in the area,” explained Greco. “To be included in that lineup is wonderful thing for me.”
Greco has been involved in organizing the new Reservoir Food Pantry, in the Town of Olive, to alleviate pressure on the Woodstock pantry, which is housed in the basement of the Reformed Church on the Village Green. Good Neighbor, which used to get fewer than 200 visitors a month, is now serving up to 2000 a month, as a result of the 2008 economic collapse.
“Now one senior in four, one child in five, doesn’t have enough to eat,” reported Greco. “Children are coming to school hungry. If there’s food in the refrigerator, the parents won’t have enough money for gas to get to work.”
Organizing Reservoir Food Pantry
After the economy tanked, New York State’s Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program passed a guideline requiring food banks to serve everyone who came to the door with a three-day supply of food for each household member. “It totally changed how the pantry functions,” noted Greco. “We had to bring in huge amounts of food.” They now provide, in addition to canned goods, fresh produce and frozen foods, which come from state food banks, monetary donations, food drives, and local businesses such as Migliorelli Farm, Hurley Ridge Market, and Bread Alone Bakery.
Earlier this year, the demand resulted in a dangerous level of overcrowding in the church basement. Greco credits board member Richard Allen with locating a truck for the pantry’s use and retrofitting it with freezers, refrigerators, electricity, and shelves. “It was a dream come true,” she said. “Richard proceeded to drive to Latham twice a week and come back loaded with fresh produce and distribute it at a satellite location.”
Although four satellite deliveries a week have eased the overcrowding in the Woodstock pantry, it became clear that another site was needed. Pantries are located in Kingston, Saugerties, Woodstock, and Phoenicia, but there’s a gap along Route 28 that needs filling. Greco has been working with a small group of people to organize the Reservoir Food Pantry, which began to distribute food on September 10, primarily to homebound people.
“We’ll be doing that until we find a place from which we can work,” said Greco. “We’re processing 501c3 papers to become a nonprofit. I have an office we’re working out of on Tuesday mornings. Getting people who need food is the easiest part of the job. All you have to do is whisper ‘pantry,’ and people come out of the woodwork.”
Greco is planning to hold a food drive soon, and she is actively seeking a site for the new pantry in the Boiceville or Olivebridge area.
“When people come to food pantries,” she said, “you do the best you can to give them dignity and honor, to make them realize they haven’t done something wrong.”
To suggest a site for the Reservoir Food Pantry, or to offer donations of food or money, contact Thurman Greco at 845-399-3967 or [email protected]. The Good Neighbor Food Pantry, located at the Woodstock Reformed Church on Woodstock’s town green, is open Wednesdays from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm and Thursdays from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, with distribution at satellite locations several days a week. Good Neighbor can be reached at 845-417-5535, or through their website, http://www.goodneighborfoodpantryofwoodstock.com. Also see Greco’s website at http://www.thurmangreco.com.