By Emily Reichart
In 1977, Sharon Krieger started volunteering at Memorial Episcopal Church’s food cupboard, under the direction of Rev. Barney Farnham. Since then, this humble food cupboard has evolved into The Samaritan Community, with Sharon at the helm. It currently serves approximately 1,100 people annually through its food pantry, clothing shop, individual counseling, group support, emergency financial assistance, and more.
While Samaritan has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception, it is still very much a small nonprofit. Sharon is the only full-time employee, joined by five part-time staff members and a team of about 45 volunteers. With an annual budget of about $300,000, funding comes from individuals, private foundations, businesses, faith-based organizations and fundraising events. Even with a small team and a small budget, a lot gets done. In fact, the people of Samaritan have a saying— “We’re a small organization with a big impact.”
Sharon has been able to accomplish all this over the past 40 years because of her love of people and through a tremendous amount of hard work. She works with clients from the early morning well into the night.
“She is a warrior in the local battle against loneliness, uncertainty and despair,” says Paul Silvestri,
board president of The Samaritan Community. “There is no off time for Sharon. She is always working to help our members.”
In all of her work, Sharon focuses on the individual, the member, the human being who needs a little help. As she says, “each member becomes the program.” She in turn takes the time to build true relationships with them, learning their unique circumstances and personal stories.
“I am deeply grateful for Sharon’s love and support. She had faith in me even when I didn’t. She got me back on my feet and I am so thankful,” says one Samaritan member. “She is totally devoted … I love the way she keeps us together.”
As for Sharon? She just wants one thing: “I want people to know they are loved.”
Learn more about the Samaritan Community on their website.