Volunteer Spirit: Brothers’ list of responsibilities long, varied

Stephen Flynn and Rita Brothers volunteer at ACCESS Soup Kitchen and Men’s Shelter. Flynn and Brothers, along with other volunteers from the soup kitchen and GleanKY, scalded and froze turnip greens for the shelter to serve with meals. (Photo submitted)

By Philip Case

Contributing writer

It would be easy to imagine Rita Brothers losing track of her volunteer responsibilities. She has so many.

“I just have a passion to help people,” Brothers said, in what might be something of an understatement. In addition to her own volunteer work, Brothers trains others.

A lifelong Catholic and a member of Good Shepherd Church, she has lived in Frankfort since coming here in 2003 to care for her brother, who was blind.

“My husband, who’s dead now, said we needed to move to Frankfort and take care of my brother, who’s also dead now,” she said. “We were living in Whitesville, where I grew up. It’s a little town just outside of Owensboro. He said it was God’s calling us.”

She says Father Charles Howell, the priest at Good Shepherd, keeps her busy with, among other things, the Respect Life Program, which works to help people from “womb to tomb.”

“Much of any volunteer work,” Brothers said, “is about helping those who can’t help themselves.”

She works as a cook at the ACCESS Men’s Shelter Soup Kitchen as well as whatever else is needed.

“Since 2013, I’ve been involved in a ministry where several of us go every Friday night and pray with inmates at the jail.”

She’s also involved in Good Shepherd’s St. Vincent DePaul ministry, a Catholic charity that focuses on providing clothes, furniture, appliances and dishes. “We sell what we can for whatever we can get, give lots away and pitch what’s not usable. There’s plenty of that!”

Her involvement in getting fresh produce to those who need it, including residents at King’s Daughters Apartments who must provide their own food for the weekend, is very rewarding.

“During the week they are served a subsidized lunch,” Brothers said of the KDA resident. “But nothing is served on the weekend. Residents can cook in their apartments, but some don’t have enough money to buy food to cook.

“Our parish had 700 members and I’ve been trying to encourage them to cook and take food to the residents.”

She’s worked with the Franklin County Farmers Market to get fresh fruits and veggies to those needing them most.

“We’ve taken produce to 12 or 13 groups, including the soup kitchen, the women’s shelter, some of the lower-income employees at the jail and St. Vincent, just to name a few.

“This fresh-food distribution has really grown since 2013 when I started working with Kim Cowherd on the program.” Cowherd is the former Franklin County Extension agent for horticulture.

She said that as a student at Brescia University she learned there are those people who just can’t do any better than what they are doing. And then there are those who are down on their luck.

“It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference, so I just do what I can to help anyone who’s in need without judging the circumstances. Helping others makes me happy — and I know those I try to help are happy to get the help.”

Know someone with a volunteer spirit? Email volunteers@state-journal.com.

 

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