Bread for the City Remembers Judy Stahl
Bread for the City lost a dear friend recently, Judy Stahl. Judy served Bread for 22 years as a weekly volunteer, donor, advocate, and fundraiser. She loved our clients, our staff, and her fellow volunteers. She was smart, compassionate, and fun.
I had the privilege of speaking at Judy’s memorial service, and I thought that, to honor Judy, I would share my thoughts with you. Here goes…
“Thanks to Judy’s family for allowing me to speak at today’s memorial service. I’m extremely honored.
As you know, Judy volunteered at Bread for the City for many years, often with her band of merry women, Ellen Rosenthal and Muriel Martin-Wein. At Bread we provide food, clothing, medical, legal and social services. A big part of our mission is to alleviate the pain that poverty causes.
I really only got to know Judy during the past two years. She volunteered mostly out of our Southeast Center, and I spend most of my days working out of our Northwest Center. Still, as I began to think about Judy and my remarks today, immediately part of one my favorite poems came to mind. The poem is called Success, written by Ralph Waldo Emerson. In his poem, Emerson writes,
…to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.
When I emailed the staff to announce that Judy had passed, Social Worker Stacey Smith replied “… this brings a tear to my heart. I really enjoyed having Judy with us…. It will not be the same. I am personally touched by her true essence and the love she showed with the baked goodies and [her] sense of humor. She has really touched my life….. I will miss her so.”
Lynda, our SE Center Director said that “despite the fact that Judy came from such a different world than most of the people we serve, she was not only committed to helping them but seemed somehow connected to them and the struggles they faced.” Lynda chuckled when she shared that “even though we told Judy that volunteers should not give client’s money directly, when she felt only cash alone could address their problem, (the need to get an ID, or pay a small fine, or turn back on a cell phone) she took money from her own purse and gave it to people. She was simply unwilling to turn away from the person when she thought she could make a difference.”
And from Emily Torruellas “[My] final memory of Judy makes me smile: after Judy got the scrapbook [we made for her]…, she called to say thanks and spent the better part of 15 minutes telling me how amazing her Bread family was and how much she valued her work with the clients and specifically, Lynda. Judy wrote us a very kind thank you note that’s still on my desk.”
Perhaps, however, Lynda summed up the staff’s feeling best when she said, “Judy was one of us. She was family.””
We love you, Judy, and we miss you.