Even Stage 4 cancer doesn’t keep Barbara Griffy from helping people.
Barbara is 76 years old, and has been interviewing GraceWorks clients as a GraceWorker for seven years.
Despite her grave diagnosis, she still comes every Tuesday morning, as often as she feels up to it – which is most of the time.
“I have cancer all over my body, in my bones, stage 4, but being at GraceWorks is just medication for me,” she said. “If I can help someone, that’s what I want to do. And I find people who are in worse shape than I am. I have a lot to be grateful for. I do.”
She actually started volunteering at GraceWorks in its early days when the thrift store was on Beasley Drive. She had to stop her volunteer work when her job at CPS took a history-making turn.
“I broke the glass ceiling at CPS. I was the first woman to go into management, and I had to do lot of traveling. I had to set volunteering at GraceWorks to one side and just shop there. A lot of the girls in the office and I would take our lunch hour and go to GraceWorks to shop.”
She grew up in Lewisburg, and moved to Williamson County 32 years ago. When her husband retired, they moved to Chapel Hill, where she still lives. After her husband died, she returned to GraceWorks, this time as a GraceWorker.
“I came back because it was a ministry, something that was a Christian ministry,” she said. “I wanted to do that.”
Being a GraceWorker can have its hard moments, she said.
“It can be heart-rending because you meet all kinds of people with all kinds of problems,” she said. “When I leave here, I take it with me sometimes. There will be one case so heart-rending, you want to do everything you possibly can but there are limitations to what you can do. The ones that hit me hard are the ones with children involved. Trying to find somewhere for the homeless to go, particularly homeless with children living in a car. How do they live, how do they eat?”
When she is not at GraceWorks, she reads, she goes to Bible study on Thursdays, and Saturday nights – “the only day I cook” – are devoted to her family. She has three daughters, nine grandchildren, six great-children and two on the way. Any or all of them may stop by on Saturday evenings, accompanied by friends and a dog or two.
She also is in charge of the monthly food giveaway at her church, Holt’s Corner Baptist, which partners with three other churches in getting a trailer-load of food from Second Harvest. The weather was lousy for the February giveaway, but there were still 80 families that came.
GraceWorks remains an important part of her life.
“I can’t give up. I refuse to give up. As long as I can do this, I’m going to – if I can help someone, if I can talk with someone. I try to put the wheels in motion.”
— by Kathi McClure