Home Mullica Hill News Resident splits time between pantry, nursing careers

Resident splits time between pantry, nursing careers

Kristen Skronbanek said she is happy to have a strong support system behind her to help her manage a food pantry, being a nurse and a mom to two boys.

Kristen Skronbanek in the backyard of her Mullica Hill home on Oct. 8 (Krystal Nurse/The Sun).


The Sun

Mullica Hill resident Kristen Skronbanek balances managing a food pantry, a nursing job and being a mom every day. For the mother of two, doing so can get exhausting, but she said it’s all a matter of finding that balance, and having a solid support system.

“I’m making the choice for my family, my career and for the pantry,” said Skronbanek. “I rarely go out to dinner with my friends. If there’s nothing going on, then I’ll go out, but the family comes first.”

Skronbanek has been working part-time at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as a pediatric nurse for the past 22 years, which she said has always been her dream to do since she was in second grade.

“Back in the day, I would go with my mom into the hospital on the third floor and look at the nursery and see all of the newborn babies,” said Skronbanek. “So when visiting somebody else, my mom would always promise to take me to the nursery to see the babies.”

She said that as a mom, she feels blessed to be a nurse since she can work part-time and still have time be with her kids, Benjamin and Clayton, and husband, Mark.

Having the support of her volunteers at the Your Place at the Table, a food pantry located at Trinity United Methodist Church, helps her manage her time between family, work and the pantry.

“If something comes up, I’ll ask [the volunteers] if they can cover it, and we all take turns covering what’s needed to be done for the day,” said Skronbanek.

The food pantry got its start after the Skronbanek family had a Bible study project and decided to go out and deliver boxes of non-perishable food to those in need. Skronbanek, however, wanted to make a longer term impact on the families they dropped off food for.

“It’s not going to end,” she said. “So a friend and I were like ‘let’s talk to our pastor and see if we can get to five families.’ At that time, we got started and got hooked up with the school and got a couple of families from them.”

The pantry has grown to about 62 families, which fluctuates, according to Skronbanek, due to families getting jobs and no longer needing the food anymore or moving away.

“It’s so cool to see, year to year, when we write down the goals and I’ll go through at the end of the year and be like ‘wow! Look at all we’ve accomplished,’” she exclaimed. “It’s little things, too, that add up over the years.”

Despite the pantry’s recent success with its #PacktheCrate campaign, she doesn’t want it to get too big so they’re still able to honor every single family that comes through their doors (only eligibility is to live within their coverage area).

Every family, she said, is literally welcomed with open arms into the pantry when they walk in, and it helps them touch families on a personal level as opposed to providing them with food and parting ways.

“We want to make it not about the food, but about life,” she said. “We’re there just to listen because we’re not a part of their families. Sometimes I feel like they feel more free to talk to us. We have different people who box, check-in and then people who walk around and we’ll sit with them and chat.”

She hopes the pantry grows in volume within the community so they’re able to accept more families in need and provide food to anyone and everyone who comes through their doors.

Skronbanek and 12 other women from Gloucester County were to be honored at the county’s 2018 Women of Achievement event on Oct. 11 in Deptford. She laughed stating that it’s not the first time she was recognized.

“My sister, Megan, last year wrote to Fox 29 for their Hometown Heroes segment,” she said. “They surprised me at the Harrison House Diner.”

She added that receiving news of both recognitions has humbled her, but never made her lose track of her goal of giving back to others “whether it’s through nursing or the food pantry.” She also wants to stick to her personal mantra of treating others with respect, dignity and to not judge because their past is unknown.

Anyone seeking to volunteer at Your Place at The Table or donate goods can do so by dropping off items at Trinity United Methodist Church or visit www.YPATT.org for donor information.

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