Story by Megan Whitehead | Nov 28, 2017
Photography by Keith Borgmeyer

How this volunteer makes Jefferson City an incredible community.

I’m going to be honest with you. Until recently, I was completely ignorant about the depth of our community. Jefferson City was a wonderful place in which to grow up and go to school, but I didn’t understand what makes our city — the capital city — special. The capacity of giving here is, without question, truly remarkable. Without really thinking about it, we structure our social events, sporting events, professional lives, and more around giving back to those in need. And as we’ve shown, there is need here. Thankfully, we’re a community of philanthropic warriors, each and every one displaying a passion for what they do.

Support

Coming from a family of educators, I know the patience it takes to be a teacher — but it takes more than that. To be a good teacher for decades, it takes a passion (a word I’ll use a lot here) for what you’re doing. This is true of Elaine Foster. Elaine taught for over 30 years, most of that time as the music teacher at Callaway Hills. Talk to any of her former students today and they’ll tell you about her kindness and infectious smile. After retirement, she knew she needed to apply her passion elsewhere.

“I was out of working daily for about six years, and last year, before Thanksgiving, I thought I’d really like to go back to work,” Elaine says. “I saw an article about the Salvation Army in the newspaper that said they needed help preparing food to hand out. I thought I’d like to do that because I have such a respect and appreciation for the Salvation Army. That’s how I started. It was meeting a need of mine, but I felt like it was a worthy place to serve. It is important to me to serve and to share.”

While Elaine doesn’t deal directly with the Salvation Army’s clients, her job is crucial to day-to-day operations. She’s the support, the energizer. “I work in the back room putting whatever is available into boxes,” she says. “So, I see my role as a support to the lady who runs the pantry. I’d like to make her job easier on her.”

“Elaine’s energy and enthusiasm is contagious,” says Shelly Herst, social services and Pathway of Hope case manager at the Salvation Army. “She is our behind-the-scenes faithful helper. She has and continues to have a positive impact in our organization, and we’re fortunate to have her as a part of our family…She isn’t one who would expect any type of recognition for her volunteerism, but we feel she exemplifies the true definition of volunteerism.”

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