In Richard and Audrey Allemore’s eyes, it’s not so much the community that has reaped the benefits of the Bedias Food Pantry.
Sure, the couple and their volunteers have handed out untold boxes of free food, toiletries and clothes in Bedias since 2006. They served 150 families in October, 182 in November, 190 in December and 103 families in January.
And in August 2010, they took on overseeing the Grimes County Mobile Pantry in Anderson, Texas, for five months. The couple and their volunteers organized the mobile pantry, found a location for it and distributed the food from a parking lot.
But when asked what they get out of running the Bedias Food Pantry, Richard and Audrey are quick to smile and respond. Their labor of love has touched them much more than it has the people they serve.
“This has been a blessing to us and has helped us more than we’ve helped them,” said Audrey, who is 75 years old. “We have met so many wonderful people, and when they come in, they always give us a big hug. That’s worth a million dollars.”
Richard, who is 80 years old, agreed. He and Audrey have been married 59 years and do everything together — including running the Bedias Food Pantry.
“It’s been great, and there’s not any part of it that’s a job to us,” he said. “None of it is easy, but it’s a pleasure to be here.”
The Allemores recently won two awards — Best Small Pantry and Above and Beyond – for their service to the community. The awards were presented by the Brazos Valley Food Bank, of which the Bedias Food Pantry is a partner agency.
The awards were given to the couple while Audrey was hospitalized in College Station for a heart rate too high. She lamented the fact that she was hooked up to intravenous fluids and wearing a hospital gown for the photographs.
Shannon Avila, program manager for the Brazos Valley Food Bank in Bryan, said she has worked with the Allemores since 2008 and has found them and the food pantry to meet and exceed their obligations.
Avila said the Best Small Pantry award is given to the pantry that follows the rules, places orders with advanced notice, is timely with monthly reports, on time with payments, and is organized and proactive.
The Above and Beyond award is for taking on additional challenges and knowing that a need exists and filling it.
“It has been great working with them and getting to know them,” said Avila of the Allemores. “Their dedication is inspiring, and they strive to treat everyone they serve with respect and dignity.”
Audrey said the Bedias Food Pantry, which is housed in an old parsonage, originally was run as Jairus House by the Assembly of God Church. The building was crammed with clothes and small appliances, said Audrey.
After the church and parsonage were purchased by the Methodist Church, the Allemores began attending and realized there was desperate need for a food pantry in Bedias. A year later, the couple continued to push for a food pantry.
“One night I was in my sewing room, praying for someone to step forth, when God said ‘You do it’,” said Audrey. “So I told the pastor, and he said to go ahead and do it. We cleaned out the building and people came to take the stuff that was in it, and we opened in November 2006.”
Currently, the food pantry has a communal area where residents pick up boxes of food. Beyond that are rooms holding canned and bottled food, boxed mixes, cereal, cleaning supplies, refrigerated cheese and meat, diapers and adult pull-ups.
A closet houses Christmas gifts and wrapping paper donated by residents of the community.
Audrey said the food pantry, which uses volunteers from the House of Hope in Madisonville, is totally supported by the community. The Methodist Church provides the building and pays for lights and water.
The Methodist Church in Shiro donates $100 monthly, and Bedias Baptist Church contributes $50 a month. Several individuals donate $25 to $50 each month to help the food pantry.
Food comes from the Brazos Valley Food Bank on the third Thursday of each month, and distribution to the community takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. the third Saturday of each month. Audrey cooks for the volunteers on both those days.
The Allemores said their involvement with the Bedias Food Pantry has altered their lives. Before they moved to the area on a whim from Pinehurst, Texas, they had planned to travel. And they had certainly never done anything like this. Now, they are an integral part of the community.
“We traveled here, and this is where we are now,” said Richard. “It has been a great move – one of the best we’ve made. We have really expanded our relationships with people, and it has changed us completely.”
The Bedias Food Pantry is always looking for donations of food, toiletries or money to assist the community. To contact the Allemores, call 936-395-2023 or email email@example.com.