Volunteer Spotlight: Peggy Leonard and Matthew Poweski


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If you happen to visit the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry on Thursday mornings, you’ll run into pantry volunteer dream team: Peggy and Matthew. Both agree they love working at the Pantry because they like to stay busy and because there’s good people. “I really fell in love with Heather (the Pantry Manager), Amanda (the former Volunteer Coordinator), and Audrey (the Pantry Assistant),” says Peggy. “They’re great. And I’ve got the best partner in the world: Matthew! We’re the A Team.”  

Before volunteering with JFS, Peggy was a deputy with the sheriff’s office for 35 years. After retiring, and even after having her knee replaced, she enjoys staying active by playing tennis, biking three days a week, and swimming. She also enjoys working part-time at Universal in loss-prevention. She started volunteering at JFS Orlando a couple years ago after seeing an ad in the newspaper classifieds. “They told me to come try it out and I fell in love with this place.” She’s enjoyed getting to know the JFS staff, as well as the people that come to pick up food. She also loves to keep busy. “If you want to stay busy, this is a great place to volunteer. Some places are so redundant and boring. When Audrey comes she comes with a van full of stuff. And we have to quickly sort the vegetables and the fruit, and put them in the right places, and get rid of the bad stuff. My two hours go by so fast sometimes I think I’ve only been here 20 minutes!”  

Similarly, Matthew says he volunteers at the Pantry because “it gets me out of the apartment. I don’t like sitting at home doing nothing. I rather be here, giving food to people who need it.” Matthew first got involved with the Pantry as a RAISE (Recognizing Abilities & Inclusion of Special Employees) employee in 2014. After he graduated the six-month program, he decided to keep volunteering because he liked how fun it is and the good energy he gets from “giving food to people that can’t always afford to go food shopping and making them happy. They say ‘Thank you’ and ‘God bless you’ and ‘I’m thankful for what you’re doing’. They’re very grateful. There have been a lot of people that cry. Sometimes I wish I could give them more food!” 

Thank you, Peggy and Matthew, for working so hard every week to help hungry families in our community. We enjoy working with you both and appreciate everything you do for us and the Pantry! 

Want to be a part of the JFS volunteer team? Join us in fighting hunger and giving back to your community by becoming a JFS volunteer! Several types of opportunities are available, including in the pantry and office assistance. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Volunteers@JFSorlando.org.

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