Sugar Grove woman busy organizing seniors, food pantry

  • Julie Walker helps senior citizens through Sugar Grove Township and assists all ages at the Between Friends Food Pantry in Sugar Grove.

      Julie Walker helps senior citizens through Sugar Grove Township and assists all ages at the Between Friends Food Pantry in Sugar Grove. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Julie Walker works on a puzzle with residents at a senior living apartment building in Sugar Grove.

      Julie Walker works on a puzzle with residents at a senior living apartment building in Sugar Grove. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted11/24/2022 5:30 AM

Julie Walker says senior citizens "have a special place in my heart."

Her paid, part-time positions put her in contact with them a lot. But her service to them goes beyond that.

 

And when she's not helping senior citizens, you might find her at the Between Friends Food Pantry in Sugar Grove or fostering dogs and puppies.

"I wear a few different hats," Walker said.

That's an understatement.

"Julie Walker has contributed endless hours to the community and has never wavered from adding to her plate of helping and caring for everyone selflessly," said Laura Prince-Ross of Sugar Grove.

"Her phone is constantly beeping, ringing, buzzing as she runs the ever-busy (Between Friends) Food Pantry," said Walker's husband, Chris.

Helping seniors

Walker works for Sugar Grove Township, running the monthly senior citizens luncheon, bingo session and a snacks-and-games day.

She also delivers food pantry groceries to homebound residents of a senior-living apartment building. She can be found putting jigsaw puzzles together in a common room at that apartment or shooting the breeze with the residents.

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"I like to goof around with them a lot," Walker said. "They get my sense of humor."

The senior luncheon took off after a Salvation Army Golden Diners program closed. Julie and Chris Walker decided there needed to be something at which senior citizens could socialize over a meal.

In the beginning, the two of them did the cooking. Now Sugar Grove Park District and Sugar Grove Township pay for the meal, and the Sugar Grove Community Building provides the place for free.

Walker thinks her affinity for senior citizens grew from taking her own grandparents for granted. She wishes she had gotten to know them better.

"I love talking to them," she said about the seniors.

She asks them where they met their spouses, about their holiday traditions, what they did for work and more. "I just feel compelled," she says.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Stan Fornek of Sugar Grove said Walker is good at organizing, figuring out how to smooth out disagreements between clients and who should sit with each other at games and meals.

"She is very good people," said Linda Welker of Sugar Grove, one of the people attending a jigsaw-puzzle session on Nov. 16.

Food pantry

As for the food pantry? "I always liked how it started," Walker said.

A friend, former Sugar Grove resident Melisa Taylor, had middle school-age children home on a holiday break. To keep them from vegging out in front of the TV all day, Taylor gave them two options: Do something constructive or clean the bathroom. The boys decided to go door to door collecting food for the Elburn Food Pantry. Taylor learned many clients came from Sugar Grove.

Walker organizes the volunteers as well as the collection and distribution of food.

"I like to boss people around," she cracked. "I've put a lot of my blood, sweat and tears into that place over the past 9½ years."

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