BRATTLEBORO -- Three years ago there was not a food pantry at the Community Bible Chapel of Brattleboro and Khris Clement did not even know there was a Vermont Foodbank warehouse in Brattleboro.
Clement, now 61, heard there was an increasing need to provide nutritious food to area families so she helped start the food pantry, which has since grown to become Brattleboro's second most busy food shelf.
Then Clement found out about the Vermont Foodbank and she started volunteering there.
Now she is coordinating the foodbank's heavily used meat program that helps distribute up to 3,000 pounds of meat a week to food shelves around southern Vermont.
Today, Clement is being recognized at the Statehouse with one of the Governor's Awards for Outstanding Community Service.
"This is the first time I've ever received something like this," Clement said Wednesday while taking a short break from her work at the Foodbank. "I never win anything."
Clement puts in about 25 hours a week at the foodbank, but it is not only the number of hours she donates that encouraged the Vermont Foodbank administration to recommend her for the annual award.
Maurice Casey, Director of the Southern Region of the Vermont Foodbank, said Clement has been growing as a volunteer and as a leader from the first day she showed up to work.
Casey says Clement works hard, is organized, and has a gentle, but persuasive way of getting other people
When the foodbank was establishing its frozen protein program it needed someone who could handle the perishable and expensive product and sort it and get it out of the warehouse as quickly as possible.
Clement was their first choice to be supervisor and she has helped the program grow into one of the most busy, and important, section at the foodbank.
"She is an excellent communicator. People respect her because she works so hard," Casey said. "Every week, thousands of people who might go hungry get food because of the work she does."
Clement is also being recognized for the work she did getting food to people in the days following Tropical Storm Irene.
Clement put in extra work as donations came in and thousands of food went out to families and individuals in need.
"Vermonters care about their community, they care about their neighbors and they care about their state," Gov. Peter Shumlin said about the group that will be recognized at the ceremony Saturday. "Every day, all over the state, they give their time and if they quit, Vermont would sink and our quality of life would degrade."
At the Statehouse ceremony Saturday, 72 different individuals and groups will receive the award.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 802-254-2311 ext. 279.