OAK HILL, WV (WVNS) — At the youthful age of 86, Dale Gravely still gets around well with her cane.
Yet, no one in Fayette County is as quick to serve those in need as she is.
“Not only is it a good thing to do, I have met so many nice people and have enjoyed working with them,” Gravely said.
It started in 1980, when the pastor at Oak Hill United Methodist Church was looking for someone to take over its food pantry.
“He kept saying that every meeting I attended,” Gravely recalled. “Then one day, I just said ‘Martha [Parish] and I will do it!’ Of course, she wasn’t there. But anyway, Martha and I did it!”
For more than 40 years, they did it well — so well, the church later moved the Plateau Ministerial Association Food Pantry to the more spacious Lewis Christian Community Center.
Jack Crosier served alongside Gravely since the pantry relocated there in 2005. With Gravely retiring as its co-manager at the end of March 2021, Crosier and his wife are taking over the helm with incredibly large shoes to fill.
“If I was to serve that long, I’d be in my 90’s when I finish!” Crosier said. “The individuals that partake of the food pantry and volunteers that’s assisted over the years… that would just be an impossible number to come up with.”
While the need did not change after four decades, neither did the giving, helpful spirit of one remarkable woman.
“A person that was willing to do whatever it takes, and to answer the call of God and Jesus Christ, to answer the call to be a servant… she is definitely an example,” Crosier said.
As the matriarch of her family, Gravely even requires her kids, grandkids and various relatives to volunteer their time at the pantry and give to their extended West Virginia family. Looking back over years of continuous progress, Gravely simply said this was all a team effort.
“If it weren’t for the local churches, the ministerial association… we wouldn’t have been able to do it,” Gravely said.