I worked the NEEDS front desk for many years. Each church represented on the Board was responsible for finding volunteers from their church, helping with pantry duties, and filling the pantry with fresh items. It was my church’s turn and I was serving as a pantry volunteer.
A wonderful young man came in. He had walked from the bus stop a few blocks away and he needed food. My fellow-volunteer knew that we could not give him all the food he needed because there was no way he could carry all the food with him onto the bus.
We took a gamble. She had a cell phone which she gave me and I kept it on while I walked the man and his boxes and bags of food to my car to drive him home. She called her cell phone from the NEEDS phone line and kept the line open in case I was a fool and needed help!
Would you do this today? Probably not.
This young man turned out to be a wonderful husband and father. He eventually became a friend too!
Sometimes trusting and taking a gamble (with a helpful cell phone) is what NEEDS volunteers do!
We had an elderly gentleman come to the food pantry for the first time. He was nicely dressed, so nicely dressed, in fact, I thought he had come to the food pantry to donate food rather than because he needed help.
He was very proud that he had never needed this kind of help before, but an emergency had happened and his family needed help. We registered him and packed the food for his family.
When he saw all the food being wheeled out on the cart for him, you could see the tears welling up in his eyes. It was all he could do to keep the tears under control. He was EXTREMELY grateful!
NEEDS food pantry is open Tuesday and Thursdays from 9 am- 1 pm at the lower level of Kenwood Baptist Church, 8341 Kenwood Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45236.
Many years ago we helped a family. The mom and dad worked full time and their grandchildren needed special care. Finances were tight, so NEEDS helped with food and emergency financial assistance.
The mom said when she retired she would pay it back by volunteering at the NEEDS pantry and she kept that promise! A week after retirement she was trained as a Desk Volunteer and worked this position for over 10 years. Her husband had health issues that needed her so she had to end her commitment to volunteer at NEEDS.
Her children are fine and her grandchildren have grown to be wonderful people.
As Mother Teresa said. “ Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you”— and NEEDS did this.
Husband, father, grandfather, veteran, golfer, longtime Kroger employee and volunteer – these all describe Kenton Gast.
Born August 15, 1926 in Logansport IN, Kenton had one brother and a sister Karen, who still lives in Bloomington IN. He joined the Naval Air corps and served in the South Pacific during the last two years of World War II on the USS Shangri-La, but says he “never saw any action.”
On June 7, 1953, Ken married Betty Paulin and they began
their 66 year marriage. The couple went on to have five children: Charlie (who
lives in Mason), Andy (Leesburg, OH), Mike (Greenhills) and Tony
(Finneytown). They lost a daughter to
cancer a few years ago.
Kenton (or Ken, as most of us know him) started with Kroger in a six month manager trainee program. He went on to become Assistant Manager in Indianapolis for 1 ½ years. Still in Indianapolis he became Produce Trainer and then Produce Buyer, then Assistant Grocery Merchandiser. In 1965 he came to Cincinnati as Vice President of Manufacturing Procurement where he retired after a 32 year career.
Kenton and his wife Betty have lived in Kenwood for 50 years. During that time he served as a deacon at
Trinity United Church of Christ and in the early ‘80’s he began volunteering at
NEEDS where he has served as vice president and as Director of Pantry Operations
and Volunteers, and Director of Desk Operations.
He remembers that at that time Sycamore Jr. high school was
the biggest donor to NEEDS followed by Greenhills schools. He remembers that what was left over was
always given to the Freestore Food Bank in Cincinnati. When asked what he sees
as the biggest change in NEEDS he says the number of clients we serve.
As far as hobbies, Kenton always enjoyed playing golf. Now his 11 grandchildren take up has spare
When asked what he would like to be remember for, Kent replies with no hesitation ”being kind to others.”
Ken, you’ve got your wish.
Thank you for your long years of service to NEEDS and the families of Cincinnati.