Hattie and Ken Shinnick were high school sweethearts, married the year after high school. Now, decades later, they work together serving GraceWorks by helping to fill the pantries of families in need.
After living several years in Nashville, the couple moved to Franklin in 2000 to be nearer their children.
“And we’ve been busy ever since,” Hattie said.
Hattie started shopping in the new GraceWorks Thrift Store, then located on Beasley Drive. Struck by the mission she found there, she decided to start volunteering by processing clothes and running the cash register.
Ken heard about GraceWorks for years from his wife. When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, GraceWorks was in charge of sorting, storing and distributing the tons of donations that came pouring in.
“There was a mountain of black bags that people brought things in. It all had to be sorted and moved from place to place,” Ken said. “So they needed a forklift driver. I’d never operated one before, but I got the job anyway.”
Ken wound up volunteering six days a week for about six weeks.
And he was hooked.
He started volunteering with Hattie in the food pantry, where they can be found each Thursday morning. They also help out when other shifts run thin.
“Ken & Hattie’s passion for GraceWorks and especially the food pantry has been a true blessing for many years,” said food pantry coordinator Stephanie Wracher. “GraceWorks cannot serve our mission without dedicated volunteers like them.”
But they not only move food boxes, mark out bar codes and pack food carts.
Ken noticed discarded cardboard was being thrown in the dumpster, and decided to start taking it to a recycling center himself. There, he discovered he could be paid for the cardboard, and he signed up GraceWorks to receive the money. In the past two and a half years alone, GraceWorks has received $3,526.
“We are going to volunteer as long as we are able,” Ken said. “I don’t know how much longer, but we’ll keep on while we can.”
“It’s a good feeling to be able to help. We really look forward to Thursday mornings.”