Soup Kitchen Volunteer Tom Zoladek, 25, of Canadensis, has been lending his time and talents to The East Stroudsburg Salvation Army for the past two years. After hearing about our Soup Kitchen from a career counsellor, Tom knew that combining his love for cooking and helping people, would be just the volunteer opportunity he was searching for.
"I like cooking and baking so I knew working in the Soup Kitchen would give me a chance to use my talents and to help people at the same time," says Tom. "Boy, was I right," he said smiling.
Tom volunteers every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 6:30am - 3:30pm, often helping in the Food Pantry after the Soup Kitchen closes for the day. "Tom has a great attitude," Food Pantry/Volunteer Director Jill Brink says. "He is a hard worker and a true team player, willing to step in where and when needed."
"Without Tom, I wouldn't be able to do my job," said Soup Kitchen Coordinator, Stephanie Lesh. "He runs the entire breakfast program on the mornings he is here. Our clients like seeing his smiling face behind the counter. A friendly and familiar face goes a long way here."
In his spare time, Tom can be found at home with his family and thinking about ways to improve the Soup Kitchen program. "I like that I can touch lives and help build people up," he said. "It reminds me that when I start to either brag or complain about my life, there is always someone who has it harder and to be grateful. It's humbling."
If there is no work left to be done in either the Soup Kitchen or Food Pantry, Tom can be found in the front office sweeping, mopping, vacuuming or doing anything that is asked of him. "Tom just loves people and is always willing to roll up his sleeves and mop the floor if I ask him to," said Executive Secretary Cari Friend. "His heart is huge and he just lights up any room he is in. One day I saw him mopping the hallway and a client walked into the front door. Tom greeted him like a friend, lent him an ear, and kept right on mopping. That's the kind of guy he is."
Although he is willing to help out wherever needed, his first love is cooking in the Soup Kitchen. "I enjoy my time in the Soup Kitchen most of all," he says.
"Tom is reliable, hard working and always happy. If I ask him to do something, it's done. I don't think I've ever had to ask him to do anything twice. Not only is he a good cook, he cares about the people we serve and always puts himself behind everyone else," boasts Stephanie. "I am so grateful to have him in our kitchen."
Faithful, dependable, loyal, friendly and compassionate are all words we could use to describe Tom Zoladek. However, Jill Brink captures his essence perfectly when she describes him as "such a giving spirit."
We are truly blessed to have the dedication of such an outstanding human help us fulfill our mission of "Doing The Most Good" in Monroe County.