The office of Tim Baumbach, below, the Central Downtown Food Basket's executive director, is a broom closet, but he doesn't spend much time there anyway. He unloads food trucks, coordinates volunteers putting out food for those who are struggling, and gives them emotional support. With patience and respect, he listens, councils and stops to bear someone else's burden for a while. He shoulders that weight, carries it home to his family, then lets it melt away. "I want to remain strong for them," he said. "I can be weak with my family because I know they'll hold me up."
His wife, Mary, and two sons volunteer at the Food Basket, and the organization is his family's labor of love. (Mary and son, Nick, shown at right) Seeing people get back on their feet after receiving help has kept him rooted here for 24 years. "It comes from the heart," Baumbach said. "I'm serving a purpose."
Baumbach grew up in a military family. His mother volunteered as the family services coordinator. As a child he would help her staple informational packets of material together for her and would look forward to his reward of a tuna sandwich, a chocolate milkshake and french fries. Later in life he would run multiple gas stations and give free gas to those who donated food to the poor. Finding that not fulfilling enough he decided to apply for the position of executive director for the Central Downtown Food Closet, which was later renamed. They were looking for "a working director, not a sitting director," he said. He promised to fill that roll - and he has. His wife embraced his new passion and joined him in running the operation as a volunteer. "I like who I am now," she said. "I'm a more compassionate person."
Baumbach has three sons, and though the eldest cannot currently volunteer they all grew up volunteering at the food basket. "We're a very tight family." Baumbach said. "They see their dad working. They back me up here."
Zachary Baumbach, 17, who helps run the Fremont Presbyterian Church location once a week, helps carry food out of the door for Carmen Reynaga, who walks slowly with the aid of a walker. "You know you've done a good job as a parent if someone drops something (your kids) are going to pick it up for them," his dad says.
To learn more about the Central Downtown Food Basket visit their website at http://cdfb.org/
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