A Gift for the Future: Carolyn’s Story

July 3, 2024

Carolyn Golden’s relationship with the Food Bank goes way back – back to the beginning, in fact. Prior to the merge of the Marin Food Bank and the San Francisco Food Bank in 2011, Carolyn saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a Marin Food Bank food drive. 

“I moved to Marin in 1980, about two years before I started with the Food Bank. They had an enormous turkey sitting in Corte Madera, in the town center. You would put bags of food down the chute into the turkey. I brought a bag of food and probably a check for $50. That’s how I started: how can I make an impact? I see this food, I know that it will feed people and I know what they can buy with the $50 donation,” Carolyn reminisced.  

Shortly after, she began donating her time at the original Marin warehouse. 

“I did some volunteering up at the Novato Center, which was the size of a small house. It was really tiny, and I went up to help sort and put food bags together. Compared to now, there are these enormous warehouses in Marin and in San Francisco!” 

Seeing Food Pantries in Action 

Outside of her work as a web developer, Carolyn volunteered as a tax preparer for low-income neighbors in Marin at a neighborhood resource center. One Friday volunteer day, Carolyn went down the hall to see the nearby food pantry in action. 

“I said, I’ve got to check out the food pantry and suggest that people use it – they can come to see me, and then go get some food. So, I walked down there one day and I went, oh my God, you’ve got salmon from Whole Foods, fabulous breads, all the fresh produce. They were letting people select what they wanted. I was also impressed by how caring and kind the volunteers behind the tables were to everyone,” she shared. “I was really impressed by the food – it was excellent quality food. And that was 20 years ago, so I know it’s getting better and better.” 

From Fresh Rescue items from local grocery stores to the farmer’s market-style setup, many elements have remained tried and true staples of Food Bank programming. Yet since Carolyn’s initial pantry visit, the Food Bank has continued to evolve immensely. 

Growing Together 

With even more fresh produce (now more than 70%!), larger warehouses, more families supported, and network of 350 partner organizations across San Francisco and Marin, the quality and scale of Food Bank operations has grown drastically. Through it all, Carolyn’s partnership has grown alongside it.  

One thing that resonates with me about how special the Food Bank is, is that it’s so responsive to the situations affecting people today and looking to future needs. I believe that a dollar goes much further with the Food Bank – more bang for the buck,” Carolyn shared, speaking to her decision to increase her support and eventually become a major donor. “Although it felt good to buy food and then drop in in the bin for donation, [I realized] the Food Bank can buy so much more for the same dollars. I stopped giving food and increased my cash donations.”  

Yet her motivation for donating remains the same as the first day she brought a $50 check. 

I just think, if you’re not eating, how are you going to do well in school? How are you going to be able to work? Food is the basis of everything to me.” 

A Legacy of Nourishment 

Recently, Carolyn decided to include the Food Bank in her will — because if there’s one thing she’s learned, it’s that food security is critical year in and year out. Thanks to her legacy commitment, Carolyn’s support of the Food Bank will continue even after she’s gone. But someday, she hopes the Food Bank will be obsolete. 

As she put it: “Wouldn’t it be nice if the Food Bank had to go out of business because there was no need?” 

We agree – and thanks to dedicated supporters like Carolyn, the Food Bank and our partner network can keep working towards that nourishing future for all our neighbors. To join Carolyn and add the Food Bank to a will for you or a loved one, please visit sfmfoodbank.org/legacy-giving

A Gift that Makes an Impact

June 28, 2022

Pauline Le and her husband Kiet Lam believe the best way to make a positive impact in their community is to commit themselves fully. That commitment includes supporting vital community resources with their time, sweat, and financial support. 

In living up to their commitment to helping their neighbors, Pauline and Kiet volunteer two to three times a week at several pop-up pantries in San Francisco. When asked how she and her husband feel about committing so much of themselves to help their neighbors, Pauline said “we found an extended family through volunteering with the Food Bank. We feel as if we are invested in the success of the community with our fellow volunteers and Food Bank staff.” 

Details Really Matter

For Pauline and Kiet, this calling to make an investment in their community doesn’t end at volunteering. Pauline explained that being a consultant has honed her skill at focusing on the details that are so important to a successful nonprofit program. Details like how an individual communities’ needs should be the central focus of the work a nonprofit does. No less important is the impact that is being made in the community, and how effectively that organization is using the resources and support they receive. The Food Bank’s success in meeting these measurements was vital in her and her husband’s decision-making process when choosing to commit their time and resources to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank. When considering Legacy Giving, Pauline made it clear that they wanted to feel that any dollar they chose to leave behind in their estate would significantly impact the community. “This is why we decided to make a Legacy commitment a long time ago. The Food Bank is run so well, and it is an easy answer for us to support with a Legacy gift. We are confident that our gift will have a real impact.” 

Helping People Beyond Today  

“It is clear to see that there continues to be a great need for food security and working with the Food Bank is an efficient way to help the community. The city has so much need for food security, and together we can make a huge impact.” Pauline went on to say “it’s powerful to know that we will be helping people after we pass. It’s a strong trust that we have in the Food Bank. We know that our gift will be in the right hands and that gives us comfort and peace of mind.” 

A Lasting Legacy 

By including the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank in your estate plan, you’ll create a legacy that will build a hunger-free future for our communities. We are partnering with FreeWill to make it easy for you to write a legally valid will or trust in 20 minutes or less. Begin your lasting legacy with the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank today by visiting freewill.com/sfmfoodbank or contact Kera Jewett at kjewett@ sfmfoodbank.org to learn more.