Barbara Guinn is one of those rare people who are completely devoted to the welfare of others. Guinn has been a volunteer at Second Harvest Community Food Bank for the past six years and during that time she has shared her wisdom and infectious smile with hundreds of people. It only seems fitting that Guinn was named Second Harvest’s Volunteer of the Quarter.
Guinn has a truly inspiring story to share. She was a pre-school teacher for 22 years but retired due to a stroke in June of 2000. The stroke paralyzed Guinn and left her in a coma for 16 days. The doctors didn’t think she would ever fully recover, but Guinn had other ideas. Today, Guinn has full mobility of her body and takes care of her elderly mother. “I fought my way back,” says Guinn. “It took two years of therapy and lots of tears, but God was in control and I wasn’t going to give up.”
One day Guinn was driving by Second Harvest and she noticed the long line of people waiting to go into Harvest House, our on-site pantry. Guinn quickly realized she knew several of the people standing in line. “I saw the line and I realized I taught several of them in pre-school. That’s when I decided to come to Second Harvest and volunteer.”
When Guinn first started volunteering, she didn’t tell any of the Second Harvest staff. When she arrived, she noticed many senior citizens had trouble navigating their grocery carts to their vehicles, so she immediately offered her assistance. Eventually, Second Harvest’s volunteer coordinator, Donna Thompson, noticed what Guinn was doing and asked if Guinn would like to do more. After her conversation with Thompson, Guinn started helping clients inside Harvest House every week. “I didn’t want to be recognized,” Guinn says. “I did it because I wanted to help.”
Guinn moved to St. Joseph in 1970 to take care of her two small cousins after her aunt was in a serious car wreck. Guinn never left the community. She has seven children, 39 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren with one more on the way.
Guinn truly loves volunteering at Second Harvest and encourages others to do the same. “If you have time, join the community at Second Harvest,” she says. “Someone always needs a hug or a smile. I give folks hugs and let them know I care. I even pray for them. I worry when folks don’t come to Harvest House because they are part of my family. I want them to know there is a better tomorrow.”