Alice Kirwan’s ability to help people is matched only by her humility. A pantry helper at SPAN, Kirwan credits much of her volunteer journey to the people around her, although she carries with her an amazing track record of service.
Kirwan began her service in Pennsylvania after a move from her hometown of Severn. She began volunteering at a food pantry in 1998. Kirwan worked with the clients in the front end of the pantry, distributing food and supplies to those who came seeking help.
In 2006, Kirwan returned to her birth state, making a move from Pennsylvania to Severna Park. After some time, Kirwan had the urge to volunteer again. A friend, who has since moved away, volunteered with SPAN at the time. Kirwan described her involvement process simply by stating, “I went with her one Tuesday morning and stayed.”
Kirwan now volunteers in the back of the food pantry, accepting donations, sorting them into appropriate categories, marking expiration dates and putting everything into its proper place. While she certainly enjoyed her service in Pennsylvania, Kirwan said she prefers the responsibilities of her current position with SPAN. “I’m an organizer, so I like getting in there and getting it all squared away,” Kirwan said about her sorting and stacking duties.
Her most recent accomplishment at SPAN was helping during a delivery from Severn School. Kirwan, along with other volunteers, were responsible for sorting and stacking what she called “thousands” of donations that ranged from food to toiletries. Her work thus far at SPAN has not sheltered her from such challenges. During the remodel of the SPAN building, the county required that all cans located in the basement be moved into a 53-foot carrier truck behind the building. Baring the summer heat, Kirwan and fellow volunteers moved the countless cans onto the truck. “That was crazy, said Kirwan. “That whole process of the remodeling was a bit of a challenge, but we got through it.” Despite the challenge of the remodel, Kirwan said she enjoys the space that it now allows, as her Pennsylvania pantry was a single room attached to a church.
Kirwan, who occasionally straightens the pews and provides Sunday doughnuts for her own church, is ready for her next SPAN challenge. “I’m perfectly happy in the pantry,” she said, adding that she can’t see herself doing anything else.
Kirwan stressed the importance of doing volunteer work that brings enjoyment, and she certainly follows her own rule. The number of years Kirwan has been serving with SPAN is a memory lost to great experiences and passionate work. SPAN receives Kirwan’s lively spirit and fervent attitude for service on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, days that she always seems to look forward to. “I like the people I work with,” she said to summarize her experience thus far. “I like what I do there, and we’re doing a good thing.”