Volunteer Profile: Courtney Glover

(NOTE: This is part of a series of profiles of our amazing volunteers at Toni's Kitchen.)

During her 28 years as a school teacher, supervisor and principal in Paterson, Courtney Glover routinely encountered hungry students. "I saw a lot of food insecurity firsthand," she says. "When you're hungry, you have brain fog, you can't learn."

For many of those years, Courtney volunteered at a soup kitchen in Newark, finding it "heart-wrenching" as she learned again and again that there was never enough food to go around. "My two children spoke of kids on their college campuses who didn't have enough food," she says. "It touched my heart." So did the families who came out even in the earliest days of Covid to secure a meal.

So when Courtney began researching volunteer opportunities in Essex County after retiring from her education career last year, she knew just what words she wanted to plug into Google: soup kitchens. In September, her search brought her to Toni's Kitchen. Unlike the packaged meals she used to hand out to her Paterson students, she loves that the guests at Toni's Kitchen are offered freshly prepared hot meals. On any given day, she says, "Often the meal they get here is the only meal they get." She also likes that Toni's Kitchen guests can shop at the Choice Pantry for food they want or need.

These days, Courtney comes to work in a t-shirt emblazoned with the word "Volunteer," and wears comfy sneakers for her two-hour shifts. Two to three days a week, she helps sort incoming donated goods. But her favorite day is Thursday, when she gets to offer people hot meals. "My favorite part," she says with a big smile, "is serving the people here."