Colesville Community Pantry gets help from retired postal worker
Sharen Guokas, from Nineveh, spends her retirement years donating food, brightening up the holidays for those in need and doing whatever she can to help her neighbors.
“I love helping people and I love being there for people,” she said.
Guokas is chairman of the board of the Colesville Community Pantry, located on King Road, and a volunteer at the pantry for more than two decades. She goes there every Tuesday. On the first and third Tuesdays, she distributes food to those in need. During the second and fourth Tuesdays, she helps put away food when it is delivered by the Southern Tier Food Bank.
“Without her, there wouldn’t be,” said Joan Hacker, one of Pantry’s board members and a longtime friend of Pantry’s Guokas.
Hacker said Guokas never stopped working hard for the pantry.
“She’s very organized and very dedicated,” she said of Guokas. “She is very easy to work with.”
A lifelong resident of Nineveh, her passion for community service blossomed during her 30-year career in the postal service, including 25 years as postmaster in Harpursville. One of his favorite projects was the annual food mail drive, where people can leave non-perishable food items on their porches or bend down for letter carriers to pick them up.
“I’ve always been a big fan of the carrier food drive,” she says.
She wanted the food collected by the Colesville postmen to stay in town.
“I don’t want ours to go to Binghamton,” she said. “I want this to help our community.”
Feeding the hungry became one of his causes. She began volunteering at the Colesville Community Pantry when it opened in 2001. Previously, the town of Colesville was served by several small food pantries scattered throughout the community. Now there is a bigger pantry with enough space to store food in the freezers and on the shelves.
The Colesville Community Food Pantry only serves residents of the town of Colesville, she said. The Pantry is an independent entity and not affiliated with Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW).
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In 2004, Guokas retired from the post office and stepped up his volunteer work.
“I said when I retire I would give back to the city in some way,” she said.
She kept her promise, and more. She spends many hours in the pantry.
“It’s very rewarding,” she says.
She enjoys interacting with people who come for food. In addition to distributing food, she also offers people in difficulty or misfortune a listening ear, a warm smile and lots of encouragement.
“My biggest thing is I just want to see people succeed,” she said. “If I can inspire a family to move on and do good for themselves, that’s all I want.”
She was also the first female president of the Rotary Club of Colesville and was a longtime member of the club.
During the holiday season, Guokas helps manage Christ’s Bounty, a donation of food and household items through his church, the Presbyterian Church of Nineveh.
“We try to help as many people as possible,” she said. “It’s good to see that I can help in some way by volunteering my time.”
Career: Retired from the post office after 30 years of service, including 25 years as postmaster in Harpursville.
Family: Two adult sons, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.