Barbara Nicholls Interview:
This is file #19, cycle 2. Today’s date is February 23, 2016. This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing Mrs., Barbara Nicholls on both the Beautification committee and the Corner Food Pantry. We’ll state with…
JM:What is your name?
JM:How did you come to the area?
BN:Just because we wanted to be closer to winter sports since we lived in New York City.
JM:When did you come>
JM:Were you a weekender or permanent?
JM:When did you become a permanent Salisbury resident?
JM:Were you a member of the Garden Club?
JM:How long were you a member?
BN:I don’t remember when if finished; I think it was 2003, so from 1995 to 2003 about 10 years.
JM:One of the purposes of the Salisbury Garden Club was beautification?
BN:Yes, I mean the beautification was originated by members of the garden club.
JM:Is that how the Beautification Committee evolved?
BN:Yes and then we continued with it after the garden club dissolved.
JM:How many members are on the Beautification Committee?
JM:When do you meet?
BN:Twice a year, February and August
JM:Specifically what do you do? What boxes, what areas do you plant?
BN:In Salisbury we do 4 window boxes and two large rubbish bin planters and 8 matching square boxes free standing.
JM:How often do you plant them?
BN:4 times a year: pansies in the spring, summer annuals, chrysanthemums in the autumn and greenery and hollies in the winter.
JM:Do you have any paid staff?
BN:We pay one person to do the watering and maintenance of the plants in the summer.
JM:How do you get money to buy plants?
BN:We send out an appeal letter.
JM:Where do you get your supplies from?
BN:We use Freund’s Nursery in East Canaan and Greystone Gardens in Sharon. Can we go back? I forgot to tell you what we do in Lakeville.
JM:What do you do in Lakeville?
BN:In Lakeville we have 6 of the square free standing planters and that is what we do there; the Post Office, the liquor store, and Pet Pourri. We may expand it or we may not.
JM:It depends upon, is it the merchants that come to you and say we would like boxes or…
BN:Sometimes and sometimes we have the idea of doing it and other times we ask the merchants if they would like them.
JM:They look lovely. In going through town it looks lovely.
BN:Sometimes they don’t want them. We used to do the library, but the library said we have so much signage now we don’t need boxes also.
JM:Is there anything else that you would like to add to say about the Beautification Committee?
BN:No except that it is a very successful operation; we constantly get comments about it.
JM:And good comments, too.
BN:Oh yes when we are planting whatever the weather may be, everybody says how do you girls get out here? They always say girls even though we are all women.
JM:You are all mature women. Do the women bring their own trowels and glove and so forth?
BN:Yes trowels, gloves and rubbish bags because we need rubbish bags for the things we take out to be replaced so we don’t mess up the town.
JM:Are you looking for new members at any time?
BN:We are, yes we are. In the appeal letter every year at the end we ask if anybody who might be interested in joining us and helping us because some people are getting older. You know it is a question of a lot of people can’t lift heavy things.
JM:Or they are away and they can’t participate at that time. There are a lot of reasons.
BN:We do have volunteers who join us to help planting. They are great. Some of them are younger.
JM:That is always a help. Who picks the plants to put into the planters?
BN:Chany (Wells) and I do generally. Oh and Marla Miller also when she is around. She is a great help.
JM:Let’s go on to the Corner food Pantry. (OWLS Kitchen) What is it? What does it do?
BN:We feed people who are in need of food, people in New York State, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
JM:Then it is the Tri-state area?
BN:Yes we have no limits on that. We have no means testing; we don’t ask their incomes or anything like that. All they do is come and register their families, the size of family, number of children, age.
JM:So it is just their name and family members.
BN:And address and phone number.
JM:Just contact information.
JM:Is there a board that oversees this?
JM:How many members are on the board?
BN:I think we are at 13 now.
JM:What is the term of office?
JM:Can you do two terms in succession?
BN:Yes and then you must be off for two years before you can come back.
JM:How did you get involved with the Corner Food Pantry?
BN:The people who were in charge of it then in 1995 decided that they would start serving people on Friday nights as well as Saturday morning. It had always been Saturday mornings. They asked me if I wanted to work on Friday nights. I said yes. Then they asked me to be on the board. I said yes.
JM:Where specifically is the food pantry location?
BN:It is in the little white house behind the Catholic Church on Rt. 41.
JM:when the clients come in, have you prepared food for them or do they take off the shelves?
BN:We have a counter which has all the items that we are offering that night, except for the things in the fridge. We always give cheese, toilet paper, tuna fish, large jars of spaghetti sauce, choice of fruits, choice of vegetables, peanut butter, cereal either hot or cold, rice, spaghetti, orange juice or apple juice and a choice of different meats-chicken, ham steaks.
JM:So it is basics.
BN:Yes and then t out on the porch or side room is where we have our donations of which we have a lot, usually, except in the summer because schools are closed. The families get to choose items off the shelves there. That is where we also have bananas which we have every week. Right now we are getting carrots, onions, potatoes from the Connecticut Food Bank. In the summer we have a lot of local vegetables from Gordon Ridgeway farm and from the Community Garden, Lakeville, and individuals who grow their own gardens.
JM:On Friday nights what are the hours?
BN:5 to 6 PM
JM:How many people work that shift?
BN:4 or 5 usually, in the summer definitely 5
JM:Because I am assuming you have more clients?
BN:No we have more vegetables
JM;Saturdays what are the hours?
BN:9 to 11 am
JM:And again about4 or 5 people that work?5.
BN:They usually have 5 people that work.
JM:How is it decided how much food they can take?
BN:It is based on the number of people in the household. A single person gets one each, but a family of 8 of which we have quite a number, will get 5 of each.
JM:During the winter you don’t have the gardens, the Community garden or Gordon ridgeway, how do you get your fresh fruits and vegetables?
BN:We are getting them from the Connecticut Food Bank when they have them which is not all the time. It has just happened the last few weeks
JM:Where are they located?
BN:They just moved I think Waterbury.
JM:How do you get funded for this?
BN:We send out an appeal letter once a year. People are very generous.
JM:It is a generous town.
BN:Yes, we apply occasionally for grants from other organizations. We usually get them.
JM:What have I forgotten to ask you about the Corner Food Pantry, anything?
JM:What are some of the other civic activities what you participate in?
BN:I am currently just Owls Kitchen, and Beautification and I volunteer as a person at the gift shop at Noble.
JM:That was what I was looking for. Is there anything else that you would like to add before we close?
BN:I don’t think so.
JM:Thank you very much.
BN:It is my pleasure.