Helping Center executive director retires leaving legacy of love at nonprofit

CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — When Sue Kennedy reflects on her 23-year tenure as executive director of The Helping Center of Marble Falls, she sees how her own experiences guided her as she helped area residents through tough times.

“If you haven’t walked in these people’s shoes, then you don’t understand what they’re going through,” she said. “If you’ve ever been homeless — which I have — if you’ve ever been hungry — which I have — you understand a lot of them.”

Volunteers, board members and donors hosted a retirement reception for Kennedy on Feb. 19 at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.

Supporters showed their appreciation for how Kennedy led the nonprofit food bank, 1315 Broadway Ave.

In 1990, Martin McLean recruited Kennedy, who was a cook for the Neighborhood Center. He said she was reluctant at first, but, once she took the position, she naturally embraced her duties.

“I have two brothers and no sisters, so the last 20 years, Sue has been my sister.”

“We have a very good food bank. We provide some financial assistance and prescription drug assistance and other ways of helping the needy,” he said. “We can only do that because this community supports us, and we have a lot of volunteers.

“We’re very grateful for that, and Sue’s been in charge since 1990,” McLean said. “This is not going to be all that easy. We’re going to miss her.”

Kennedy attributed her success to support from volunteers and board members as well as applying her philosophy through the years to assist clients with a “listening ear” and “a heart full of love.”

“You have to listen and understand what (the clients) are going through,” she said. “Help them with food and bills and give them good advice.

“It’s hard enough for them to walk through the door, let alone ask you for something,” she added.

A good working relationship with volunteers and continued support from board members and donors have been the foundation of success for the facility.

“I’m going to miss the volunteers, The Helping Center board and the clients,” Kennedy said. “I’m so used to them, knowing them by name. After being there so many years, it’s hard to walk away.”

Kennedy says she will continue her work with the Salvation Army and has plans to volunteer more with local ministries.

connie@thepicayune.com