More than a year after Darlene Quinn retired as director of Tracy Interfaith Ministries, the staff of volunteers is still looking for someone to fill the void she left.
Amy Scudder, Diane Ruiz and Linda Gleason have been running Interfaith’s programs together as interim co-directors since Quinn’s retirement in August 2018.
Scudder said they’re all still committed to their work — “We’ll still be serving and probably still doing some of the same tasks that we’re doing” — but they need someone who can focus on the big picture.
Darlene Quinn is stepping down Friday as executive director of Tracy Interfaith Ministries, ending her 19-year tenure.
“We need the overall director to help coordinate and get the communication flowing smoothly throughout the whole program and do the follow-up and make sure everything gets done,” Scudder said.
Interfaith, founded in 1988, is a faith-based nonprofit at 311 W. Grant Line Road that gives food, clothing and other help to low-income families and individuals living within Tracy Unified and Lammersville Unified school district boundaries. About 62 families a day go to Interfaith for food and other essentials.
The director role is a 20-hour volunteer position for the hours the office is open on weekdays.
“We need somebody that’s here five days a week. We do a lot — I think we do a really good job — but there are things that just fall through the cracks because we’re torn in so many different directions,” Gleason said.
The three agreed that the director should be someone who shares Interfaith’s vision.
“We really want somebody that’s committed to the cause and sympathetic toward our clients, that’s very flexible to what their job description is,” Gleason said.
Some type of administrative or organizational experience would be ideal, along with financial and grant writing knowledge, but the interim team said most skills can be learned. Above all, they want the next director to have heart.
“You also have to have someone with compassion and empathy for the people we serve,” Ruiz said. “Yes, they may drive you crazy, but that’s what you are here for. You’re here to help them with what you can.”
Along with a new director, Interfaith is in need of volunteers. Scudder said there’s no paid staff, and it takes about 20 people a day to keep up with interviewing clients, working in the kitchen and pantry, providing security, supervising the warehouse, and other duties.
Volunteers work between 9:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and between 10 a.m. and noon on Saturday. Their numbers have dipped on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in recent months.
“There were a couple of Fridays where I almost had to close because we didn’t have enough people,” Gleason said.
The holiday season is especially busy. Volunteers pack food boxes for Thanksgiving and Christmas in addition to helping clients with daily needs. Last year, with the help of partner churches, Interfaith gave out 600 Thanksgiving boxes.
“We’re getting to a point where it’s a little stressful,” Ruiz said. “And it’s like Linda said, you have almost nobody here and we almost had to close. What happens when it’s crunch time and we’re so overloaded?”
People can get more information on Interfaith’s website, www.tracyinterfaith.org. Teens ages 14-17 need to have a parent fill out paperwork before they can start volunteering. Kids younger than 14 need to work alongside an adult.