Unsung Hero: Jane Williams

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By Ashley Smith
By Josue

MURPHYSBORO -- A Murphysboro woman is spending her retirement volunteering at a food pantry. Despite being an unpaid volunteer, she devotes more than 50 hours a week to make sure thousands of families don't go hungry each year.

"The faces of these people is what keeps me going and keeps me dedicated," said Murphysboro Food Pantry Board President Jane Williams.

Jane has been volunteering at the Murphysboro Food Pantry since 2008. 
 
She retired from her own business, but you wouldn't know that because she spends more than 50 hours each week helping the food pantry.
 
"I can never quit. I go home and I think, 'I have to work tonight. l have to find money, I have to find a grant, I have to send money or send notes to donors,'" explained Williams. "So I've just sort of worked myself into a position where I'm not sure I can walk away."
 
Jane is the board president at the food pantry and does everything from stock the shelves to write grants for funding.
 
Jack Cunneen served as director of the food pantry for several years and now volunteers. 
 
"She's always been involved with the food pantry in one way shape or form or another and thank god she is," said Cunneen.
 
He says while writing the grants is a huge help and keeps the pantry in operation, Jane truly enjoys her time serving the hungry people in the community.
 
"I think that she cares about what we do here in this food pantry, and she cares about the community in general. She sees the good that this is doing for the community, and she's just stepping up," said Cunneen.
 
"I think I could be on the other side of the table so easily, we all could be. And it just makes you feel like you need to give back a little bit, everybody does," explained Williams.
 
Jane says she has tried to find a replacement or someone willing to take on some of her responsibilities.
 
"I think the right person, when I'm really ready, it will just fall into place. I don't worry about it too much," said Williams. "I enjoy doing it and there's such a variety that it's not like I'm doing the same thing everyday."
 
Jane helped the pantry buy a larger building to better serve the 38,000 people who come through these doors each year. Most recently she was able to secure a grant for $50,000 for a walk-in freezer. Those are just a couple of the reasons those volunteering at the pantry say she is irreplaceable. 
 
"The food pantry would exist without her but not to the extent or the way that we're able to operate as we do today," added Cunneen.
 
Jane isn't planning to quit anytime soon, but she does hope to actually enjoy retirement at some point.
 
If you live in Jackson County and are in need of help or would like to volunteer, you can call the pantry at (618) 684-8258. It's open 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. Monday through Friday at  906 N 14th Street in Murphysboro.
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