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Pittsfield resident celebrates 63rd birthday by walking, declares, "it's the best possible way to celebrate!"
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Rosanne Phillips was raised to give back to her community.

Led by her mother’s example, she was always encouraged to participate in volunteer work and community service. After a long career in public health, Rosanne’s mother retired as a nurse and dedicated the rest of her life to opening and operating the St. Mark's Food Pantry in Rosanne’s hometown of Pittsfield, MA. The food pantry is still open and serving residents of Pittsfield today.

“My mother lived every day of her life in service of some kind,” Rosanne explains. “I was very inspired by her.”

Her mother’s influence has led Rosanne to lead a life of service herself. Now a resident of Wakefield, MA, Rosanne has been volunteering with the Wakefield Interfaith Food Pantry for many years. She helps collect, sort and put away food during food drives, in addition to educating community groups about the pantry.

In the past, she has coordinated Saturday food drives for the pantry and has made trips to food banks to collect food. Rosanne also sat on the board of the pantry for a number of years.

Through her involvement in the Wakefield Interfaith Food Pantry, Rosanne witnesses the need for such services firsthand. Many of the community groups who come volunteer at the pantry are often surprised that there is a need for food pantries in Wakefield.

In Massachusetts, one in ten households is food insecure, and those served by the Wakefield Interfaith Food Pantry are just some of the nearly 675,000 food insecure individuals in the state. Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger funds more than 300 programs across the state, including emergency programs like food pantries, community gardens that strengthen local food systems, and nutrition programs that safeguard children from hunger.

In addition to her work at the pantry, Rosanne is also a dedicated Walker. The 2017 Walk for Hunger will be her 21st Walk, and also happens to fall on her 63rd birthday – “the best possible way to celebrate!” she says. Rosanne aims to raise at least $1,000 every year, and she almost always reaches or even exceeds that goal.

Rosanne and her friend, Tracy, at the 2016 Walk for Hunger.

“My favorite part of the walk is coming out of the Commons and seeing the sea of people ahead of us and realizing that all these people are walking for one purpose,” Rosanne says. “That is really just a wonderful sight.”

She also loves the spirit and “good vibe” of the Walk. “People are happy and friendly and helpful to each other,” she explains. The Walk is also a chance for Rosanne to catch up with her good friend, whom she walks with every year.

With the Walk’s 50th year coming up in 2018, Rosanne says she hopes Project Bread keeps doing its good work.

“I would love to see less of a need for people to use [the Wakefield Interfaith Food Pantry],” Rosanne states wistfully. But as long as the need remains, she’ll keep on walking.

As for why Rosanne continues to walk year after year?

“I do it to honor my mother’s memory, because that’s what she would want me to do,” she explains. This May would have been her mother’s 100th birthday. “I feel like it’s a tangible thing I can do to honor her life and her example that she gave to all of us.”

Filed under: Spotlights, Heart & Sole Circle, The Walk for Hunger, Donor, Walkers & Teams