Silas Hathaway and Barry Smith, Foodbank Volunteers
Most members of The Center know we have an operation called The Food Bank which provides food and staples for the needy. But beyond that, few (unless they are clients) know much about it other than that it gives away food donated by individuals and organizations (weekly on Thursdays, 6-8PM) and where it is (on Belardo south of Ramon). Many don't realize that it also requires the commitment of some 40 volunteers to make it work.
Two of those volunteers are Silas Hathaway and Barry Smith who, 22 years ago, met in a Palm Springs consignment store, and have been together ever since ("I guess I was shopping for trouble," Silas laughs; they were married a year ago). Before a very active retirement for both, Silas, a 2nd generation Californian born in Avalon on Catalina, designed and manufactured custom furniture in Los Angeles. Barry is from Toronto where he – sit tight – ran a funeral home and a 287-acre cemetery. When he decided to retire, a doctor told him that if he wanted to avoid becoming one of his own customers, he had to stay active.
Silas moved to Palm Springs to help a friend open one of the first gay bars (the Rainbow Cactus); Barry, well, he just loved the place: “I had spent a lot of time here with my parents.” A few years ago, after Silas recovered from a serious illness and wanted to volunteer to help others, a board member of The Center introduced them to the Food Bank. They've been there ever since (over four years) where, today, Barry staffs the operation's fruit and vegetable station, and Silas the meat station.
Early on, they discovered that the Food Bank is also more than a market for the needy…by its very existence, it has become a sort of social club for many who have no other means of connecting with excited conversations between patrons often hold up the food lines.
The pair's volunteer activities also extend to their church (Desert Oasis Chapel) where every Sunday as well as for special events, Barry and Silas prepare large meals for the congregation.