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When she worked as director of a cancer center in Akron, Ohio, Linda Herrick met a number of people who had no idea what to do after they lost their spouses and loved ones.
“I felt so bad for the widows,” Herrick said. “Some of them didn’t even know how to write checks…I decided then that when I retired, I would give back.”
Since moving to Brunswick County in 2000, Herrick, who now lives in Shallotte’s Brierwood community, has done just that.
In 2001, Herrick began serving on the church council at St. Luke Lutheran Church. She worked as the social ministries chairwoman, which required her to represent the church on the South Brunswick Interchurch Council (SBIC).
Three years ago, she began serving as the SBIC chairwoman, making sure each committee, including those overseeing tangible assistance, the food pantry and grant applications.
This month, Herrick ended her three-year term as chairwoman but is continuing her volunteer work in the community, most of it because of what she experienced working with the council.
Her long career in the medical field—as a radiologist, cancer center director and global sales/marketing manager for a medical equipment company—gave her insight into the hardships of various segments of society, but she hadn’t experienced depth of the needs until she began volunteering.
Over the years, Herrick said she has been overwhelmed by the amount of need and the kindness shown to those who lack life’s basics.
“I continue to be amazed by the variance in needs and the ranges of incomes,” she said.
“When I thought about food pantries, I thought about people who had multiple children, no jobs, second- and third-generation welfare recipients, but it’s not. It’s people like you and me who, because of the economy, can’t afford to raise a family.
“Two parents working at minimum wage jobs can’t afford food, clothing, gas for a family. They all need to have that extra help.”
Herrick learned one of the county’s biggest needs is transportation.
“When Brunswick Senior Resources Inc. began, people told them, ‘That’s great, but how are you going to get people there?’ That’s been a surprise to me.”
The tangible assistance committee provides funds for necessities such as gas, electric bills and prescriptions, while the food pantry, at Camp United Methodist Church, provides emergency food to those who can’t afford it.
The SBIC works with Brunswick Family Assistance and other local food pantries to ensure there is little to no abuse of the volunteers’ kindness.
“We have a database of who goes where, when,” Herrick explained. “So we don’t have much abuse of our funds…Most all churches in the area are aware of the abusers, and we talk to each other.”
Alan Pitts, SBIC vice chairman, praised Herrick’s work.
“She was instrumental in increasing the membership and participation of community churches, increasing the fundraising events and activities to support the SBIC pantry at Camp United Methodist Church, and forging closer partnerships with the other food pantries in the south Brunswick area,” Pitts stated.
“Linda’s leadership skills, engaging personality and enthusiasm enabled SBIC to make improvements in every facet of its activities.”
Now that her term on SBIC has ended, Herrick is concentrating on her other leadership role—as chairwoman of the Shallotte Farmers Market through the Downtown Shallotte committee.
After meeting the mayor of Shallotte soon after she moved to town, Herrick decided to attend a town aldermen meeting. There, she learned about the Downtown Shallotte committee’s efforts to revitalize the town and she quickly got involved. Her first assignment as a committee member was the Memorial Day celebration, where the farmers market got started.
During Herrick’s tenure, the farmers market has moved from the Shallotte Town Hall parking lot to a much shadier, more inviting spot—Riverside Park behind the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce building.
She’s been chairing the committee for the past several years and is now overseeing implementing funds from a Tobacco Trust Fund grant to provide additional advertising and a storage facility for the market.
Herrick stays dedicated to the farmers market because she knows it serves a necessary purpose—providing local vendors a place to sell their wares, a chance for shoppers to buy quality local products at affordable prices and a way to build pride in the local community.
So why does Herrick continue to work so hard in her retirement years?
It’s her commitment to her new “hometown,” she said.
“I like the mix of people. I like the locals, and I don’t blame them for not liking some of us! It’s a nice small town, close to the water. And I love the climate.”
She doesn’t care for the traffic along Main Street during the weekends and is committed to Downtown Shallotte’s revitalization process not because she wants the town to become unrecognizable but because she wants it to become a place people want to visit and enjoy.
“Just with the farmers market, it’s become a great place for local people. They don’t have to go to Wilmington anymore.”