Debbie has volunteered at Paz de Cristo for more than 31 years.
Debbie Malsom moved from Wyoming to Arizona in 1986. She started attending St. Timothy’s Catholic Church right away and became involved with Paz de Cristo from the very beginning. “I believe that I am here to serve,” Debbie said.
“I signed up [to volunteer] and went to that little yellow house in Mesa,” she explained. In the early days fo Paz de Cristo, volunteers prepared food in the kitchen of a residential home in Mesa. They transported food to a parking lot in the downtown area, set up tables as well as chairs, and served dinner. “My first memory is making peanut butter balls and then rolling them in powdered sugar for dessert,” she said.
Debbie was soon promoted to Meal Coordinator at Paz de Cristo’s current location on Broadway Road. Every month, she led a team of twenty volunteers who were tasked with preparing dinner, serving a meal to more than 200 guests and cleaning the kitchen as well as the dining hall afterward.
In her professional career, Debbie taught at Centennial Middle School in Ahwatukee. “Back in the day when we were free to pick up and drop off kids, I brought sixth graders and they loved it,” she shared.
While the setting and the times have changed, Debbie’s heart-felt commitment to serving holds steady. She continues to serve on a meal team once a month. Debbie’s role has shifted from Meal Coordinator to Intake which involves greeting guests and checking them in on an iPad. “You get to see people and talk to them. Everyone is so grateful to get to eat dinner,” she said.
When Debbie retired two years ago, she signed up to prepare and distribute food boxes. “It’s amazing all that Paz does—food boxes, showers, clothes and the jobs center.”
Now Debbie volunteers in the Food Pantry on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. She keeps busy sorting food donations and stocking shelves in the pantry. She also assembles hygiene kits for distribution during the shower program. “I’ll do anything—whatever is needed, I’m happy to do it.”
In addition, Debbie covers front desk reception on Friday mornings where she answers the phones and performs data entry. “I’m doing work that needs to be done so we’re ready when guests come. This frees up the staff to take care of other things,” she explained.
“It’s my passion now, I love it!” Debbie exclaimed. “I see the goodness of the people who volunteer and drop off things like socks and food. Paz is the best thing that has ever happened to me!”
While Debbie has been serving for more than 31 years, new volunteers serve for the first time every week. “Come check it out, see for yourself,” Debbie said. “Do the nightly meal, you’ll want to come back.”
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