Anne Skelton of Auburn fills food boxes Friday at the YWCA food pantry in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — After 34 years of teaching, Anne Skelton was used to being up and out of the house early, lending her energy and spirit to others. But, when a serious car accident in 2017 forced an early retirement, she had to reassess.

After she recovered, she admittedly couldn’t sit still, and it wasn’t long before nearly every day of her week was occupied with volunteering. When she’s not in the kitchen at the Lewiston YWCA food pantry, she’s driving seniors to the grocery store or to appointments through the Catholic Charities SEARCH companion program.

“Once I got better I thought, I need something to do,” she said, “I’m used to being up and out by seven and not being home until five.”

“My stapler would always disappear. Now it doesn’t,” Anne Skelton said about the stapler she uses in the YWCA food pantry. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Skelton, of Auburn, has 11 clients she takes grocery shopping, or to medical appointments. Some are in nursing homes or senior facilities, and she checks in with them to schedule weekly or monthly pickups. One client just likes to talk on the phone, she said.

Skelton said that during the pandemic, the YWCA created a food pantry that has since grown exponentially. As the volunteer pantry manager, she’s there every weekday morning, even on Tuesdays and Thursdays when the pantry is closed to drop food from the Good Shepherd Food Bank and prep food orders for the following day.

“I may have one day off in a week where I don’t have any clients,” she said. “It’s a lot but I love it. I love my clients and the people at the Y.”

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Sometimes after her time at the pantry on Mondays and Wednesdays, she goes to Good Shepherd to lend a hand for a few hours. She calls it “giving back” for the food they provide the YWCA pantry.

She also recently donated a washer and dryer so the pantry can do laundry for extra clothes it has on hand for preschoolers and its after-school program.

Anne Skelton of Auburn is the volunteer food pantry manager at the YWCA in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

After the accident — during which she broke both her knees and suffered a ruptured diaphragm — Skelton began volunteering in the YWCA kitchen, and then pivoted to the pantry once it began.

Before getting started each morning, she would swim for an hour at the pool and met the director of the Catholic Charities Maine SEARCH program. That’s how she became a volunteer companion for the program, which stands for Seek Elderly Alone, Renew Courage & Hope.

SEARCH provides seniors with companionship and socialization activities, transportation support and referrals.

Most of Skelton’s clients are in Lewiston-Auburn, but she has clients in Lisbon Falls and Mechanic Falls as well.

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In August, a shortage of volunteer drivers forced the Lewiston-based Community Concepts to end its similar transportation program. Skelton, who lives near Lost Valley, said the gas prices this past summer did not make it easy, but she weathered the storm.

The 61-year-old simply said, “It’s not going to stop me. I’ll make it work.”

This year, Skelton is among six Catholic Charities volunteers to be named to Volunteer Maine’s 2021 “Roll of Honor” for logging more than 500 hours.

When the honor roll was announced, Kelly Day, director of Volunteer Services at Catholic Charities Maine said, “We are incredibly grateful for these volunteers and for the time they have dedicated to several of our programs around the state. Our work of providing help and creating hope for Maine’s most vulnerable depends on a robust volunteer network.”

Know someone with a deep well of unlimited public spirit? Someone who gives of their time to make their community a better place? Then nominate them for Kudos. Send their name and the place where they do their good deeds to reporter Andrew Rice at [email protected] and we’ll do the rest.


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