Above and Beyond: Mother, daughter spend 2 decades volunteering at Harlem food pantry

Thursday, February 25, 2016
Mother and daughter team work to help a Harlem food pantry
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Rob Nelson has the story.

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- For two decades, a mother and daughter team have been working tirelessly to help their community, making weekly visits to a food pantry in Harlem.

A long, healthy life is certainly a blessing, especially when that life is spent giving back to others.

"I'm so grateful that God let me live this long and still have some use," 90-year-old Elizabeth Smart said. "There's a lot of people gone since I've been here."

She and her 75-year-old daughter Pearlie Hudson have been volunteer fixtures at the Kennedy Center Food Pantry for 20 years. So if it's Wednesday, they're there.

"I have a happy feeling, I feel good inside," Pearlie said. "It gives you a warm sensation, feeling inside because you helped somebody. That's what I feel like."

Both Pearlie and Elizabeth say they have seen the need at the pantry increase, and that's how they know it is a place where they are needed and where they go above and beyond to make a difference.

"It makes me feel good and wish we had more to give," Elizabeth said. "Becuse there's a lot that we don't have, but hoping that we will get more."

Catholic Charities runs the pantry, which means so much to those who need it.

"It means for them that they are not to go hungry and they have something to eat today," Pearlie said. "And they might have enough for another day."

And organizers know just how special the mother-daughter duo is.

"When you are able to actually continue to give back to your community as you age, I think it's a very powerful feeling," Catholic Charities' Helene Lauffer said." It gives you a sense of purpsose and a sense of usefullness that has a lot of value."

Pearlie and Elizabeth are originally from Georgia but have lived in New York for decades. And in our city, they have found a home, and a purpose.

"Thank God, get up, don't sit down there and wait for God to give you everything," Elizabeth said. "He give you life, He give you strength, and He give you hope. So you take that and you pass it to someone else so they can feel good."