Saturday, Oct. 26 will mark one year since Isabel Talamantes and her family stepped up to take over managing The Pantry & More after the death of its founder, Tommy Shelton.
The Pantry & More is an Erath County source for food, clothing (including shoes), toiletries and various other essential items for families and individuals in need, free of charge.
This Thursday, Oct. 24, The Pantry and More will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony conducted by the Stephenville Chamber of Commerce, and Talamantes noted, “We’ve been calling it a community one-year anniversary ribbon cutting and community luncheon.”
The “walk-through” event — free and open to the public — will be from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday at The Pantry. It’s at 2345 Hwy. 67, just outside the Stephenville city limits. Hamburgers, hot dogs and beverages will be served, also at no charge.
Talamantes said she’s hoping everyone who has contributed to The Pantry over the past year will be able to attend.
“We would like to have them out here,” said Isabel, a Stephenville native who graduated from Lingleville High School in 2012 and has a bachelor’s degree in social work from Tarleton State University.
Others — who may be interested in seeing The Pantry first-hand — are also invited.
“If anybody has had an interest in the pantry but has never been here, that could be the day to come in and check out The Pantry,” Talamantes said. “They can see what our goals are, and how they can contribute.”
Talamantes and her father, Arturo Briseno, and mother, Madeleine, were longtime friends with Shelton, an ordained minister who died last October at age 84. Arturo, who had known Shelton for more than 20 years, helped him build the 501(c)(3) nonprofit food pantry for those in need in its present location after a fire struck the former site in the summer of 2015.
In a previous interview with the E-T almost a year ago, Briseno said, “I made a promise to continue with (Shelton’s) legacy, and that’s why I’m here.”
Briseno and his wife are the owners of A.B. Ranches & Dairy of Stephenville. Isabel’s husband, Francisco, works for Prime Building and Components of Dublin.
“He (Arturo) just wants to make sure that the community knows that we’re very appreciative of them and what they’ve done and the acceptance the community has had for our family taking over the pantry. We’re very appreciative of them.”
Isabel said that they also want to thank “the organizations (and) the individuals that have donated clothes, to people that have donated their time and money.”
She also wanted to give a “shout-out” to longtime supporters and friends, Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Holifield, “for their continued support.”
Talamantes said they have learned a lot in their one-year experience of organizing the food pantry.
“It’s been an eye-opening experience,” she said. “We didn’t have any idea how much food insecurity existed in our community until we had been here this past year, and we have seen it first-hand. It’s in our backyard and we don’t see it.
“We see people from every walk of life. We never know when it will be us in their shoes, needing help. Ultimately, that’s why we’re here. Like dad said, we are called to help (and) Jesus came to serve and we’re just following those footsteps.”
There are currently two individuals who regularly work as volunteers — one usually Monday through Friday, the other on Wednesdays. Talamantes said that they also benefit from having youth groups, sororities and fraternities, church groups and other community organizations that lend a hand.
But the bulk of the volunteers aren’t there all the time, and the work does not stop.
“We’re always looking for hard-working, trustworthy and reliable volunteers,” Talamantes said.
She added that if any organizations or churches are interested in learning more, or in getting her to come to speak to their congregation, call 254-968-0115 to set up a time.
You can also call that number if you want to make a donation, or get details on how to become a volunteer. The new hours of operation at The Pantry & More are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, but Talamantes suggested to call before dropping by in case they are temporarily out of the office.