By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson – Anne Marie Lourens of Hudson was honored as an Unsung Heroine at a ceremony May 29 at the Massachusetts Statehouse. Among her volunteer efforts, Lourens currently serves as board president and co-director with her husband, Nick, for the Hudson Community Food Pantry (HCFP). The ceremony is presented annually by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. Eighty-one women were recognized this year.
Lourens was nominated by state Rep. Kate Hogan, D-Stow, who attended a recent gathering to observe HCFP's 25th anniversary.
“It seems whenever there's something good going on in the Hudson volunteer community, Anne Marie is part and parcel of it,” Hogan said. “That is by definition an unsung heroine; the one who's always getting things done and making the community better. For over a decade she's been in a leadership role at the food pantry, where they reach out to people in Hudson and beyond.”
Originally from Ithaca, N.Y., Lourens spent summers with her father in Hudson beginning in her preteens and made the move fulltime as a high school junior. She said her interest in the food pantry is based on personal experience at a young age.
“Growing up in upstate New York, I was the kid on food stamps,” she shared. “I know how it feels to walk through a food pantry door. I know it's not any different in New York than it is in Massachusetts. When I was asked to join the food pantry in Hudson – not even knowing at the time that we had one here – I was tickled to volunteer.”
Lourens and her husband began serving in leadership roles soon after a fire in 2000 destroyed the building that formerly housed the HCFP. She feels that it was a relatively easy transition because the organization's founders continue to be actively involved.
“The HCFP is 100 percent volunteer,” noted Lauren, who works as a customer service representative at the main office of Avidia Bank in Hudson. “With the exception of the group of retirees who volunteer Tuesday mornings, everybody else has fulltime jobs.”
She estimates that about 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of food is currently served to over 130 families. Also served are residents through town agencies, church organizations and the Willis House, a temporary shelter for families.
“We view the HCFP mission to be through any conduit that gets food to people who are in need in the community; it's not just in the food pantry building,” Lourens explained. “Bolton doesn's have their own food pantry, so we support them. And we gave Berlin seed money to start their own food pantry and we continue to give them our overflow of food, as we so with other towns.”
Lourens is excited that the HCFP can now accept more food donated in bulk from businesses because of its recent purchase: two commercial-size refrigeration units.
“It's our first major purchase,” she said. “The only other purchases for us were siding and a roof to maintain the building.”
She's also grateful to the community for its continued support.
“People in Hudson rally around anyone in need, whether it be food, a fire or family needs,” she said. “We'se very blessed.”
A resident donated time to create the HCFP website: hudsoncommunityfoodpantry.org.
Monetary donations can be sent to HCFP, PO Box 608, Hudson MA 01749. Either monetary or food items can be dropped off during open hours at the HCFP, located at 28 Houghton Street. Open hours are Tuesdays and Saturdays, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; and the first Thursday of each month, 7 to 8:30 p.m.? For information, contact the HCFP at 978-562-5280 or hcfp28gmail.com.