Meet Debbie Shoup
Debbie Shoup prepared to check in guests at the pantry.

“I try to remember all the names of the individuals who come through my line at the pantry,” says Debbie Shoup, who volunteers both at Emmaus’ pantry and soup kitchen. “I can’t tell you the warmth of the smile they get on their face when I remember their name without looking at their identification card.”

At the pantry, Debbie sits behind a desk checking guests in each Monday and Tuesday. She works with people from last names beginning with the letters A-G. There are about 300 active individuals in her group of guests.

Debbie has worked hard at remembering all her guests’ names and stories, which can be difficult because many of these guests come from all over the world and have non-English names that reflect their ethnicities and languages.

“The care for one another goes both ways,” Debbie continues. “When I’m gone for a while and haven’t told the guests I wouldn’t be around, they notice. And when I return, they ask me where I’ve been and if everything with me is all right.”

Debbie first came to the Emmaus community back in 2006 after her brother Denny Oswalt passed away. Denny was a wonderful benefactor to our kitchen. Each year he would take bus loads of children on a field trip to Payless Shoes and Splash Lagoon Waterpark. After his passing, Denny’s mother, stepfather, and sister Debbie began volunteering at the soup kitchen’s holiday dinners in his honor. Soon after, Debbie was asked to join the pantry’s regular volunteer crew.

In addition to working at the pantry, Debbie continues to volunteer at the soup kitchen and has worked with Sister Rosanne Lindal-Hynes signing up families for the Christmas program.

When she’s not volunteering with Emmaus, Debbie enjoys travelling with her family. She and her husband Pat enjoy visiting her son, who is currently studying law in Chicago, and taking day trips to Cleveland.

She is also an avid baker. The pantry volunteer staff knows this and supports her baking habits. “If a new candy is delivered to the pantry,” she says, “the other volunteers bring me a bag and say ‘what can you make with this?’ So I take the candy home and think about it for a while. By the next week, I bring a baked good made from that candy for the whole pantry volunteer staff to enjoy!”

So not only do her peers love her, but Debbie also loves working at the pantry. “I would never leave,” she says and then laughs: “Actually, they would have to fire me!”