In Honor of Kevin Larkin
When I first met Kevin Larkin, I was just a volunteer working my way through graduate school. I’d heard about him previously, having done some work in the office and warehouse, and it was apparent he held the respect of the staff and volunteers. I was excited to meet him when I was scheduled for my first shift at Preston’s Pantry.
As the lead volunteer at Preston’s Pantry, his presence was both commanding and approachable. I could see why so many people at Lift UP spoke so highly of him.
What I hadn’t anticipated was the boundless dedication and devotion he had for the clients, shoppers, and the community. The commitment Kevin had for ensuring that everyone was treated with the same care and respect came through in all of his actions, from making sure the shelves were organized and stocked to answering questions and pointing out new food items to shoppers. People knew him, and he knew them. He took great care in remembering the people who were regular shoppers and was instantly welcoming and helpful to newcomers.
He also took great pride in overseeing Oregon Food Bank’s Free Food Market program. Arriving no later than 6am on the third Wednesday of every month, he had the tables and food crates ready to go before volunteers arrived. He was meticulous with his setup, with no reason other than making sure each item was displayed in a way that made it easy for 90 people to comfortably shop in under an hour.
Kevin passed away on Monday, June 1 of 2020. He set a standard for me that I continue to strive for in every way Lift UP supports our community. I’d like to share some reflections from those who knew him best:
Kevin gave 110% to the operations of Preston’s Pantry. He was truly the face of Lift UP to our community. Kevin had the respect and affection of everyone from staff, volunteers, clients, and neighbors. He was dedicated to ensuring everyone was treated with dignity and respect. I learned a lot from working with him.
- Teresa Steichen, Preston’s Pantry Manager
I had the privilege of working with Kevin at the Pantry on Tuesdays. Kevin was intrepid. He worked harder than any of us. He was dedicated to Lift UP and our clients. He was always at the Pantry before we arrived and stayed beyond when we finished our shift. He had a wry sense of humor which added to the camaraderie that our Tuesday group enjoyed. He was a leader though he would never have called himself one. Lift UP and the world lost someone special when Kevin passed away.
-Jil Morby, volunteer and board member
Kevin was a wonderful Pantry lead volunteer. He helped me with many things but always did it naturally with a sense of humor. One memory I have is him saying to load the bread loaves with the twist ties in back so the clients could read what type of bread it was. He did this in a way which did not make me feel utterly stupid. And when I worked intake he always helped out with a strange situation or a potential client difficulty. I will truly miss Kevin who volunteered so much of his life to helping people.
-Chip Brown, Preston’s Pantry Volunteer
Dave & Bill
Bill Haug and Dave Richardson roll into our office every Friday morning with smiles on their faces. They are passionate cyclists, avid beer drinkers, and active in the community at Trinity Episcopal. Their role with Lift UP is to pick-up donated food from Trader Joe’s.
Yet they do so much more.
Often times there is so much food, it takes their skill to pack everything in our van. They agree to pick up food donation barrels sprinkled around the city, offer to assist with delivering food boxes on occasion, schlep our recycling to the recycle center, and then pack their car with garbage to dump. Despite the weather challenges (that often fell on Friday mornings), they always were committed to getting Trader Joe’s food on our pantry shelves.
If you see them out in the community, know that you are witnessing some of our most reliable volunteers committed to reducing hunger in Northwest and Downtown Portland.
Written by Erin G.