November Person of the Month
By Sheryl Beadles
November's Person of the Month grew up in Farmington, Missouri, the oldest of three children. She has a brother still residing in Farmington and a second brother in Vancouver, Washington. In Farmigton, she attended 13 years of Catholic School. After high school, this person moved to St. Louis and married in 1966. She has lived in St. Louis, Tampa, Florida, and Washington, D.C. before moving to Macon.
Since retirement after working for 25 years for the Macon R-I School District as a speech/language pathologist, one of her biggest passions has been the Macon County Ministries Food Pantry. Her name is Linda Ellis. She and her husband, Joe, moved to Macon in 1972 once he left the Air Force and they have called it home ever since. They raised a daughter, Nancy, who is now married to Brian Lary. Linda has three grandchildren from Nancy: Bradyn (14), Ellis Kate (12) and Lily Rose (Lulu, 9).
Linda said that after growing up in an urban bedroom community and living in larger areas, it was a culture shock to move to Macon. She stated that there was “no time” lost getting around in the community. She and her husband were used to taking a lot longer to drive around larger cities than the time it took to drive around Macon. Linda feels the biggest challenge was the difficulty in getting acquainted with people.
Since retiring, Linda has kept very active in the community. She volunteers with Immaculate Conception School, the Macon Public Library (where she organizes the front display case), Maples Repertory Theatre (where she helps schedule things), the Emergency Food Pantry, and (as mentioned previously) Macon County Ministries Food Pantry. She is beginning the 8th year as the director of the Food Pantry. Linda said she began as director in order to carry on Martha McDowell's legacy.
The concept of the Food Pantry is that “they feed peoples' bodies while nourishing their souls.” Linda said the best thing they give away is a smile. The greatest challenge she faced as director of the Food Pantry was finding a permanent facility for it. They used to use a building at the corner of Bourke and Allen in Macon until they were able to purchase the building at their current location of 305 Sunset Hills. The Food Pantry serve 350-400 families per month and gives away 42,000+ pounds of food that they receive from the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri. It is open 12 noon to 6 pm every third Tuesday of each month with a “mini Monday” from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm the day before for caregivers and the severally disabled (they must be a family of 1-2 people).
Linda explained that 40% of the clients are elderly, 42.5% are the working poor (families who have 1 or 2 jobs), 10% are severally disabled physically or mentally, and 8% are the chronically needy. It takes around 100 volunteers to make the day possible and volunteers are always welcome. She emphasized that no one at the food pantry is paid. As director, Linda's job entails lifting and sorting items to be given away, paperwork, organization and putting together the monthly newsletter. The biggest change she has seen at the Food Pantry (aside from moving locations) has been changing to an automated system in the past year.
The Emergency Food Pantry can be used by anyone four times a year for any reason. The food is completely donated by the community. It has a budge of $6,000 from the Macon County Ministry funds but gives away an excess of $112,000 worth of food. It is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 am to 12 noon and Tuesday and Thursday from 1 pm to 3 pm. For more information, call 66-395-3663.
One unique thing about Linda is that she is known as the “lady with 275 things.” She is an extremely organized person who believes that if you aren't using it, don't keep it. She also strongly believes that when you buy something new, you should throw something old out. Another interesting fact about Linda is that she is a March Hare (a group of women born in March who get together every year to celebrate their birthdays).