Meet our Area Gleaning Coordinators
Contact: Email | 252-426-7167
Counties: Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Edgecombe, Gates, Halifax, Hertford, Hyde, Martin, Nash, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrell, Washington
Jean Blish Siers grew up on a small family farm in extreme northwestern Minnesota, where her family raised a little bit of everything: sheep, cattle, chickens, wheat, oats, alfalfa, and millet – as well as huge gardens that fed the family and were shared with neighbors. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, she and her husband moved to Charlotte in the late 1980s. While her son was growing up, she did freelance writing and editing, but also a lot of volunteer work at her church and son’s schools. In both places she saw the widespread need in a seemingly prosperous community, and also the difference that a few hands and a lot of love can make in people’s lives.
While her son was in college, she worked in the private sector, but felt the tug to come back to a job where, at the end of the day, she felt she had made a positive impact in lives in her community. Since late August 2012, Jean has been the coordinator for SoSA for the Charlotte area.
Each day that she works for SoSA, she is amazed at the commitment of volunteers and growers. When she calls, people help. Individuals and groups call each week, hoping to get into a field. She has stood sweating in a field, and when gleaners are told they’re done for the day after picking thousands of pounds of corn or sweet potatoes, they say, “Why do we have to quit now?”
Some farmers plant fields just for the gleaners. “I’ve been given a lot with this land and have raised my family here,” one grower told her. “I believe I’m called to give back.” Other farmers share from their bounty, when plowing it under might be easier and quicker for them.
Each week, she experiences at least one moment of grace, in the face of a recipient who shares her collard recipe, or in the voice of a farmer, delighted to be able to share. When her drivers describe where they take produce, whether it’s a neighborhood, a church soup kitchen, a senior meal site, or a refugee center, she hears the same thing: “They were so happy to get the produce. They feed a lot of people!”
Each day when she signs onto her computer, she remember that. Folks are so happy to get that produce, and there are so many people to feed.
Contact: Email | 704-951-7672
Counties: North Carolina: Alexander, Anson, Cabarrus, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Richmond, Rowan, Stanly, Union ♦ South Carolina: Chester, Lancaster, York
Bill Waller grew up in Lenore County, outside Kinston, NC on his family’s tobacco farm. He graduated from Atlantic Christian (now Barton College) in Wilson, NC, and worked for many years in customer service with a shirt manufacturing company in Kinston. He retired after spending six years at a second job in early childhood services, and got deeply involved with the gleaning group at Westminster United Methodist Church in Kinston. When the Eastern NC Gleaning Coordinator stepped down “temporarily” in 2002, Bill took over, and eleven years later he is still in the position!
Being a people person, Bill loves working with new gleaners. He has many wonderful contacts in his region, one being his friend Gloria Anderson who can have a gleaning group together at the drop of a hat. Some of Bill’s fondest memories come from gleaning alongside inner-city youth at an annual summer camp. Getting kids off the streets and into the fields gives him hope that the next generation can carry us forward. Why does Bill work with SoSA? Because his life has been blessed and takes great joy in giving back.
Contact: Email | 252-522-2180
Counties: Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico, Pitt, Wayne, Wilson
Tricia Lounsberry grew up in Fayetteville, NC watching her father gather leftover produce for the hungry. He would park his truck next to harvested potato fields, glean forgotten spuds, and distribute them to folks in need. Tricia’s mom had a servant’s heart too. She was on crutches for the last ten years of her life, but she never stopped driving shut-ins to the beauty shop to brighten up their days. This attitude toward service was contagious.
Tricia was living in Tarborro in 1999 when Hurrica Flloyd hit NC. Immediately she got involved in the relief efforts, and has not stopped serving the poor since. When she moved back to Fayetteville in 2004, she signed on with Society of St. Andrew to glean for hunger relief. She quickly connected with gleaners from a broad range of churches, crossing racial, ethnic, and class lines.
Gleaning in Fayetteville spreads by word of mouth. Tricia calls farmers, calls her gleaners, and God’s work gets done. Nowadays she delivers potatoes to some of the same places her father did all those years ago. Nine years in, it’s hard to imagine the Fayetteville region without Tricia Lounsberry at the helm!
Contact: Email | 910-488-0471
Counties: Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Moore, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland
Contact: Email | 828-508-4289
Counties: Primarily Haywood, sometimes surrounding counties
Hannah Henza has been passionate about agriculture and food for many years now. Growing up in a rural area of Guilford County, she understood early the ups and downs of a farming life. After graduating from NC State, she worked a variety of jobs, but found her heart kept being called back to the fields. Today, she lives in Greensboro with her husband and two cats. They enjoy hiking, biking, cooking, building their tiny house, and of course, gleaning. Hannah is passionate about not only her desire to see food waste eliminated, but also looking at food through a meditative, mindful, and spiritual lens. She believes that everyone has a right to healthy, nutritious food, and is excited to be part of a movement that believes the same!
Contact: Email | 336-347-8814
Counties: Alamance, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes, Yadkin
Bruce Oland was born in Brooklyn, New York. He moved with his family at age 11 to Boone, NC, and is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill. After a 26-year Federal career that took him from Raleigh to Washington, DC, Bruce and his family returned to NC to care for ailing family members. He and his wife have four children and seven grandchildren scattered from North Carolina to Arizona. Two of the grandchildren are close by, which allows Bruce to spend a couple of days with them each week. Bruce enjoys lots of time in the shop and the yard. Being the kids’ Cub Scout den leader has been a blast. They continue to cheer for Henry and Oliver at their baseball games; and are very much a part of their lives. There are also many hours spent in the church garden and in various efforts to help others in the community.
For the past 20 years, Bruce has worked principally for non-profits. He’s been the Triangle area coordinator for Society of St. Andrew since Spring 2015. He finds working for SoSA extremely gratifying. All of the people are wonderful: the volunteers, SoSA support staff, farmers, folks at the food ministries, and particularly the recipients when he has the opportunity to meet them. Bruce says, “This is truly a worthy mission that I am grateful to be a part of.”
Contact: Email | 919-533-9609
Counties: Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Johnston, Orange, Person, Vance, Wake, Warren
Deidre Duffy grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio without any connections to farms or gardens except the pathetic carrot she managed to (sort of) grow one summer. At age 19, she moved to the Pacific Northwest where she spent almost a decade working in the forest; fighting fires, maintaining trails, and planting trees. Her home base was in orchard country of Washington State’s Cascade Mountains. This is where she began her life as a gleaner – picking apples, cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, and blueberries.
She met her husband, Michael, a native of North Carolina, one winter when they both lived in Portland, Oregon. They bonded instantly when they discovered that each of them had created a map of all the fruit and nut trees in their neighborhood where food was going to waste. Together, they harvested the food to share with friends.
Eventually, Deidre’s work life shifted to helping children and their families. She worked in a halfway house with teens, and later coordinated programs at Head Start, in an elementary school and with a public health department.
In 2008, Deidre and Michael moved to Asheville to be closer to their families. A few years later, she discovered SOSA. In April 2016, she began her role as the WNC coordinator and is thrilled to play a part (along with all the wonderful growers, vendors, gleaners, and distributors) in reducing food waste.
Contact: Email | 828-513-0765
Counties: Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, Mitchell, McDowell, Rutherford, Polk, Swain, Transylvania, Yancey, Watauga
Contact: Email |
Counties: Aiken, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun, Clarendon, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter
Sunshine Leister has had a lot of interesting jobs. She sold satellite dishes back when they were seven feet in diameter. She has been a cook and server at the Look Up Lodge Retreat Center. And she was a shepherdess (!) tending more than 400 sheep and lambs. All of this while raising and homeschooling her four children, now ranging in age from 15 to 30.
But she was thrilled when she discovered she could combine her love of gardening and love of helping people in one place, as the Upstate South Carolina coordinator for Society of St. Andrew. Since she started in January 2014, Sunshine has loved reaching out to farmers and volunteers, getting fresh, unused produce from local farms to the hungry people in her communities.
For Sunshine, the job also has a more personal meaning. As a single mother, she has received assistance from some of the same agencies she now delivers to regularly. She knows how important it is to bring fresh produce to those who need a helping hand.
Sunshine remains busy with her family, with her duties as SoSA coordinator, and in her new career in real estate with Keller Williams. But no matter how busy she gets, she never forgets the reason she’s doing it; to serve those in need!
Contact: Email | 864-214-4201
Counties: Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Edgefield, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Newberry, Oconee, Pickens, Saluda, Spartanburg, Union