LIMA — For many volunteers who give their time to various causes, recognition is the last thing they seek.
That includes Karen Howell, one of the volunteers working for the Churches United Pantry, or C.U.P., located at 129 S. Pierce St. behind Trinity United Methodist Church. The pantry is a collective effort by 10 local churches, including St. Luke Lutheran Church, of which Howell is a member, working to provide essential food items to underprivileged families in the Lima area. Howell has worked tirelessly to ensure that the shelves at the pantry continue to be stocked.
“It’s a need that’s out there,” she said. “A lot of people don’t realize it.”
The Lima Noon Sertoma Club honored Howell for her work Tuesday at Old Barn Out Back, presenting her with the Service to Mankind Award, the highest honor the club can bestow on a nonmember.
“This is for someone who is not recognized for what they do and they don’t seek recognition, even though they’re doing their good works out in the community,” Sertoma board chair Erin Hardesty said. “Basically, it’s not someone who you hear about all the time. They’re not constantly in the news or being recognized.”
Hardesty said it was difficult to choose a winner because there were many worthy candidates available.
“It’s so hard to choose, since there are so many people who do so much for the community,” she said. “Anyone who does anything for the community should be recognized.”
The Sertoma Club believes it is important to honor volunteers such as Howell because otherwise their work would most likely go unnoticed by the community.
“We feel these people need to be uncovered because they’re so humble about it,” Hardesty said. “We really enjoy this day, when we get to recognize someone like this.”
For Howell, volunteering is simply the right thing to do, yielding its own rewards.
“That’s how my parents raised me,” she said. “If you see something that needs done, you do it.”
While she was very appreciative of the award, Howell was quick to point out that she is just one of many people involved with the Churches United Pantry.
“I’m one of many,” she said. “There are an awful lot of volunteers that work with C.U.P. We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the Lima community.”
It was Howell’s unwavering dedication to the work of the pantry, however, that earned her Tuesday’s award.
“She’s just untiring,” Hardesty said. “She goes and goes.”
Despite Howell’s continued work, there is a great need at the pantry for more help.
“We’re always in need of help,” Howell said. “The food comes in and goes out faster than we can keep up.”