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All in the Family


The Sueltenfuss family has volunteered with Longmont’s OUR Center from the beginning. Since 1986, they’ve worked in the clothing bank, helped with coat drives and wielded ladles in the soup kitchen. But it wasn’t until 2005 that the family’s role at the Longmont nonprofit developed into something special: The Sueltenfusses and the staff at OUR Center created a program that gives local farmers an opportunity to donate superfluous produce for hot breakfasts and lunches for the nonprofit’s clients.

Alice and Paul Sueltenfuss are both educators—Alice is the principal at Fort Lupton High School and Paul is a special education teacher at Evans Middle School—and have soft spots for issues of poverty.

“I personally need outreach to help others—especially in the area of poverty and especially with children,” Alice said. “We are always looking for ways to help kids in need.”

And that includes her own children, who were raised in a family that made outreach a priority. Their daughter Gina still works with Alice and Paul each Saturday throughout the summer at the Boulder County Farmer’s Market. The three—though, Alice says she’s just the muscle—collect goods from 11 or so farmers, including Udi’s, during each market. It takes several hours each day and includes a lot of heavy lifting. Gina and Paul also cultivate relationships with their current crew of participating farmers and build new relationships with potential donors.

“They have done a good job of maintaining and adding to those relationships and getting more farmers involved. They are great spokespeople for OUR Center,” said Elaine Klotz, OUR Center’s development director. “They have always had OUR Center in their heart. They are unsung heroes. They are behind the scenes and people don’t see what they do. We don’t get them a chance to thank them enough. They have been a backbone of the program.”

Last year, the Sueltenfuss family collected around 14,000 pounds of food for OUR Center.

“(The cooks) usually work with canned goods, so now they can step up what they are serving,” Gina said.

“It’s our way,” Alice added, “of not just giving back but giving back in a healthy way.”

The family says the experience of volunteerism and outreach helps them keep their own troubles in perspective, stay connected with people from all walks of life and connect with the people who grow their food. But as a family, volunteerism has helped keep them connected. It’s something they can do together, and it’s a mentality that Alice and Paul passed down to their children.

“It’s just something we’ve always done together,” Gina said. “My philosophy, maybe because of that, is that we may not have everything, but there people out there with less.”

Alice added, “It’s what keeps us connected.”


email no info send march17th/09

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