This article was originally published in the autumn 2023 edition of The Vincentian, the quarterly newsletter of the Congregation of the Mission Western Province. 

Bob Mazzoni has devoted two decades to St. Vincent’s Food Pantry

In the 20 years Bob Mazzoni has volunteered at the St. Vincent’s Parish Food Pantry, much has changed in the make-up of the neighborhood, arrangements with the Chicago-area food distribution organization, and most recently, the way the operation works in the Covid era.

What hasn’t changed is his commitment to the pantry and the people it serves. A copy editor at the Chicago Sun Times for 30 years and a longtime parishioner, Bob learned of the food pantry from another parishioner and saw it as an opportunity to be of service.

Bob and the two other pantry volunteers, Teresa Budasi and Mary Finn, manage the inventory, organize it into bags, and give it out on distribution days. Over the years, he has grown to know his customers, many of which come as much for the conversations as they do for the food.

“We have a relationship with them,” he said. “One woman, who has since passed away, used to come to get some human connection every Tuesday. She lived on her own. She would sometimes come because she just wanted to visit.”

After this many years, he said he is motivated by the commitment of the other volunteers and by the clients and those relationships.

“I’ve learned a ton—people from different cultures,” he said. “While I do think there is something to be said in helping the less fortunate, if you’re open to it, you can get as much from them as you give.”