Our Memories of Sarah
Sarah Swan volunteered at the pantry for many years. She was the very best of us, and all that Daily Bread represents. If you knew Sarah, and would like to add your memory to this page, please send it along.
On my first day at the Pantry, I asked Sarah when I should come back with the group of people working that day. She told me to check the schedule near the entrance. Then I decided to lift the pallets where the produce had been stacked – swept up sprouted onions, shriveled apples, and potatoes, and lots of sand and dust. Sarah just watched and, when I was done, she said. “Never mind the schedule ‘Hon,’ you can come back anytime you want to!!” That inspired me to volunteer 3-4 days every week for the past 5 years.
Thank you, Sarah. I will miss you, and the “Union Breaks” we took together out on the bench.
Sarah was such a joy to be around. She was always so peppy and upbeat, and funny. She was so funny. What a sense of humor. And such a kind and caring person. Being around Sarah, her kindness would rub off on you. I enjoyed working at the Food Pantry with Sarah so much. In the wintertime, I would grow a beard and Sarah would not let me be until I shaved it off. I thought we were going to lose Sarah a few years ago when she had some kind of serious surgery. No way. She bounced back as good as new as if nothing had happened.
Sarah was an inspiration to me and others. I feel lucky to have known her.
Me siento my feliz de haber conocido a Sarah - una persona amable, alegre, bondadosa, muy carinosa. Para mi, ella es especial. Ella se gano un luga especial en mi corazon.
Me siento muy feliz de haber tenido la oportunidad de despedirme de ella antes de partir de este mundo. La verdad: la extrano pero me conforta saber que cuando Cristo venga, tendre la oportunidad de abrazarla nuevamente.
I feel very happy to have met Sarah - a kind, cheerful, kind, very affectionate person. For me, she is special. She has earned a special place in my heart.
I feel very happy to have had the opportunity to say goodbye to her before leaving this world. The truth: I miss her, but it comforts me to know that when Christ comes, I will have the opportunity to embrace her again.
Miss Sarah, lovable, very cute and occasionally quite impatient. We worked together in "aisle 3" to allocate meat in the bags on distribution day over these last few years. Invariably, within about the last half hour she would suggest that we start putting the meat back in the freezers, as things had slowed down and, it would appear, she was bored. My response was always; I'm sure we'll get more people, and I will be sure to put it all away just before 11:00. She would say "oh ok, we'll wait", and I would say just call me if you need me but I will restock in "aisle 2" in the meantime, which was all of 6 feet away. In the midst of my labors, if one of the other guys should happen by, I would hear, "could you just help me get these boxes back in the freezers" and of course they would say "Sure Sarah!"
There was clearly only one correct response to her initial question to me regarding the disposition of the remaining meat, and I had provided the wrong answer. It, of course, became the regular routine after the first few times which I found quite entertaining!
One day I was chatting with Sarah (while she was on a cigarette break). I told her that a group of the volunteers had gone hiking. She told me that, back in the day, she was a part of the 46er’s, this being an elite group of hearty people who have climbed all the 46 peaks in the Adirondacks which are over 4,000 feet high. Sarah! She blew me away!
I bet most people didn't know Sarah had an "office" at the Pantry! Her office was, in fact, her very own file cabinet and in it was a treasure trove of scotch tape, coffee creamers, spoons, scissors, box cutters, candy for the little ones, the ever-needed tissues, etc. It also had things that Sarah thought you might need. I won't list these - they will be a secret between Sarah and me! I will always miss her loving, caring, and compassionate little self.
Rose Anne Benvenga
When I think of Sarah, I smile remembering her loving and caring for everyone.
I cherish all the wonderful, joyful times we spent together.
I am so blessed to have these memories.
Sarah was always welcoming, involved in doing everything to try and get things running smoothly. She was an amazing lady with so many talents and so much love for everyone. I was lucky to know her!
She will be missed for many years to come!
Our Sarah – always with a smile, always with a cigarette. The Pantry is not the same without her. May she rest in peace.
You are missed. I remember sitting on the bench and talking about the fruit we enjoy eating and making a peach cobbler…or not making a peach cobbler.
Your energy and kindness were always an inspiration.
I hold all her good qualities in my soul: her heart, warmth, generosity, comforting way. She cared so much about the Pantry. She was always there. I got to the Pantry early, but she got there earlier (she was often all by herself in the Pantry in the wee hours of the morning).
She wanted to make sure every last person was served even if it was 11:30 or 12:00. Some called her “Mom” and she was a mom to many more.
She exuded love and we all felt it.
I met Sarah years ago at the Pantry. She was always very kind and generous to me. I’ll never forget when I started to volunteer. She called me over and I’m like, “What did I do??” Nothing. She merely said, “If there’s anything you like, take it.” That touched my heart. And she was always giving me tomatoes!!
I loved how she was so down to earth and didn’t get caught up in gossip or Pantry politics. She was also somewhat of a rebel. And still driving at 90! God bless her.
The last time I saw her was in November. She had just turned 90 a month before. Again, very kind. Asked how I was doing financially. I’m very grateful that I got a chance to see her…and am also very glad that the Pantry staff threw her a 90th birthday party.
Wishing you peace, love, and comfort. She is loved and will be greatly missed…..and she’ll always be my “tomato lady!”
Sarah was like a second Mom to me and Pete Jeffrey as well, and we were her 'boys'. We encouraged her to take her breaks and she would tell us not to overwork.
She liked talking about her family and past life events, especially working with her son at his annual Turkey Trot run at Lake Waramaug where she set up and ran their refreshment tables for several hours.
She played and taught the bass fiddle and was part of an orchestra in her early days. That is just one of her talents and many stories.
I miss Sarah Swan!
Sarah, you were always smiling and greeting us like a mother to everyone visiting the pantry. Your warm heart will be with us foreever when we are working at the pantry.
Yes, Sarah was the Queen, and I was honored to be part of her royal entourage. She was loving, kind, caring and funny.
Sarah was always concerned about the guests at the pantry as well as the volunteers.
She touched my heart in so many ways and I feel lucky to have known her.
There will never be another Queen Sarah.
I miss you terribly.
Sarah was a good example for all of us. A giving and kind person who not only put her time in at the pantry but was always thinking of us. She knew I'd be snooping around for snacks around ten o'clock every time we were open and paid attention to what I could and could not have. I mean really, who does that? Well, she did. I'd come in the door on her side of the pantry from outside where we did the produce bags, and she always had a stash for me.
She lived a long and loved life. It's something we can all hope and aspire to. I will miss you!
I have been going to Daily Bread since 2013 and Sarah was always there when I showed up. I was blown away by her energy, sense of humor, and warmth. She always had time to answer a question or point me in the right direction. During Covid, I went to the pantry every week and got to know her even better. How lucky for me.
She was a treasure and will truly be missed. She was special and I am so glad I got to know her.
I did not realize that when I started volunteering at Daily Bread a number of years ago that Sarah would become a dear friend. She was a true leader at the pantry, managing people without them knowing that they were being managed ( me included !). A true people person, she was kind, thoughtful, and fun to be with. I am so blessed that our paths crossed. I miss her every day.
“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard” -Winnie The Pooh
I have many very fond memories of my dear friend Sarah. I’m building a boat. She said “Jay, you'll take me fishing, won't you?” Or, “Jay, you need to eat more protein.” She would bring in these small cans of tuna. I enjoyed volunteering on Thursdays to catch up with Sarah when it wasn't as crazy.
I keep thinking I’ll see your car pull into the parking lot. I will miss you, my friend.
Sarah trained me and my friend from Church, Ted, in the ways of the back room, in the old days when we unloaded deliveries and packed bags for the clients to pick up. Sue and Ted's wife, Martha, worked in the front. Martha always ran the computer. Mercedes and Juan made up the rest of our monthly shift.
Sarah was very kind and she dedicated herself to the Pantry. She was there every day of the week. She was always friendly and patient, and she knew the right way to do things. If someone else told us to change something, she would say "what do they know?" and tell us to keep doing it her way. You can't argue with hours put into the effort and success.
I will miss her, and I hope she is given some lasting recognition for her long years of service to Daily Bread.
Sarah was amazing! A lovely lady who loved us. She was always happy to see us. A hard worker who was dedicated to the food pantry. She is still with us, just in the form of God’s energy.
The “Queen” is now on her throne! I will miss you dearly.
I was probably one of the last people from Sarah’s beloved pantry to interact with her.
I called her Friday morning and offered to pick her up and bring her to the pantry. She was delighted that I had called and quickly accepted the offer. We worked together all morning loading and distributing the bags of frozen goods. Afterward, I took her back home. She was tickled silly that I had a wooden box for her to climb in and out of my truck.
I only wish I could do it again.
I miss you Sarah!
You were truly the heart of the Pantry. You were the strongest of the strong. How did you do it? Stocking and reorganizing those freezers for hours. On your feet all week long for all those years.
And boy did you care! You made sure we served every guest, even those who showed up well after closing time. You had a soft spot for the children. For as long as I can remember, you were pulling juice boxes from the refrigerator or granola bars from your goodie basket. You made countless little guys happy. You were positive and selfless, with a knack for making folks feel good.
You were the ultimate no-nonsense gal. You always meant what you said and were always so sensible. When I needed advice, I knew where to get it. You were my “go-to” lady when there were issues to be worked through (and there were often a few!). How lucky for me that you always picked up the phone!
You were a firecracker Sarah. A bright light and an amazing role model. I can still see that twinkle in your eye.
I think of you often and will never forget you.
My son, Stephen, and I started volunteering for Daily Bread’s food distributions about two months after shutdowns, distance learning, etc. were implemented due to Covid. At that time, the Pantry was in the initial stages of holding distributions outside for the increasing numbers of clients. It was a little hectic as everyone was learning from scratch. While everyone was friendly when we both started, Sarah took extra care to make sure we were welcomed and appreciated.
The work was hard, and due to the time of year, very hot and humid some days. Stephen, who has some special needs, was often not the most enthusiastic of workers and needed extra direction. Sarah saw this and took time from her work to give him positive attention. After learning of his fondness for sweets, she would offer him goodies from her “stash,” which would make his day.
In addition, while she was caring with Stephen, she sought me out on more than one occasion to tell me what a good mother I was. I can’t tell you how much her encouragement meant to me, as I often felt impatient and sometimes even embarrassed with Stephen’s complaints and refusal at times to do a task asked of him (e.g., carrying a pallet because he didn’t want to get a splinter!).
When Stephen got a full-time job and could no longer volunteer at distributions, Sarah would always ask after him and tell me to let him know he was missed.
While I only knew Sarah a few years, her kindness and sensitivity to others touched me deeply. She will forever hold a special place in my heart.
I have so many fond memories of Sarah - probably enough to fill a book all by themselves. From my very first time volunteering at Daily Bread, she made me feel welcome and helpful, although I had no idea what I was doing. Even better, she laughed at my attempts at pantry humor. And she had a wonderful laugh, the kind only smoking can give to you. So rare these days, and now rarer still. Her eyes smiled when she laughed, one of a million ways you knew you were in the company of a good person, warm and genuine.
Over the too-few years I knew Sarah, my admiration for her grew. She was a natural leader - an uncommon quality, even though it is attributed to many. Even more uncommon, she was a leader with humility and common sense. And all without any formal title or leadership position. Those things didn't matter to her. Sarah was small, but she was mighty. And brave. When Covid hit, many volunteers in vulnerable groups understandably stayed away from the pantry. Not Sarah. Though one of the most vulnerable, I doubt she ever seriously considered staying away. She helped keep us going in those dark early days of the pandemic, an example to all of fortitude and strength.
During her mandatory "Union Breaks," we had many wonderful conversations - bounded by the time it takes to smoke a cigarette. I don't really know why, but one that sticks most in my mind is the time I told her about my first encounter with spaghetti that had not come out of a can - remarkably late in life (I was already in college). Without missing a beat, she flipped the story on its head and said how late in her life she had come across anything other than fresh, homemade spaghetti. Somehow, these polar extremes of culinary heritage (hers Italian, mine British) brought us closer. And of course, precipitated a throaty chuckle about the shortcomings of 1970s English cuisine.
When I took over running the pantry, Sarah was there to support me. Once again, I didn't really know what I was doing, but from time to time she would pull me aside and say simply "you are doing a good job." Whether she actually believed that or not I was never sure, but she instinctively knew it as what I needed to hear - and coming from her it meant more to me than from just about anyone else.
Sarah worked at the pantry on the day before she died. But the last time I saw her was on the previous Monday, Memorial Day. I had gotten to the pantry early, but Sarah was there before me. Self-aware and realistic as always, she knew the clock was winding down - and perhaps had wanted some quiet time to reflect, in what had become her home away from home. We spoke about a few things, big and small. I wish I had said more, but then again there was work to be done, and Sarah wasn't about to take it easy just because it was a holiday.
I hope wherever Sarah is now she is enjoying a well-earned rest. But I doubt it. Not for more time than it takes to smoke her cigarette, at least.
Thank you, Sarah, for the privilege of knowing you.