Volusia retiree spends days helping at food pantries, homeless camps

Jack Poirie volunteers at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Enterprise

ENTERPRISE, Fla. – Every day, people gather at food pantries across Central Florida as fresh food and dry goods help so many who live paycheck to paycheck.

But every once in a while, someone shows up for those who can’t.

Jack Poirier is the grocery-getter who spends his retirement helping others.

Every Wednesday morning, volunteers show up before dawn at the All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Enterprise. Linda Eardman and Nancy McKenna start their day bagging and organizing bread.

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“We have about 75 families we help,” Eardman said. “I’m busy moving around. If somebody needs help, I’m the extra person and I take care of the situation. As the old saying goes, ‘The buck stops here.’”

“They count on us,” McKenna added.

[INSIDER EXTRA: Hear more from the people who work with Jack Poirier]

Eardman and McKenna have come to know most of the regulars.

“They tell me about their families,” McKenna said. “They know my name. I know their names.”

“I met Jack three years ago when I first started here,” McKenna remembered.

Poirier is one of the people who shows up early every week. The retiree, in his 80s, stands in line with everyone else, but he’s filling his bag for others.

“It’s my pastime,” Poirier laughed. “I’m not much for golf.”

Instead, Poirier collects food for the homeless. Throughout the week, Poirier visits food pantries in west Volusia County and then hits the road in his aging Ford pickup truck to deliver it.

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“This is where the good stuff is. All the fruits and vegetables,” Poirier said as he made his way around the folding tables covered in a variety of produce. “Some people like certain items and if they have it, I try to pick it up for them.”

Poirier said he’s been helping the less fortunate since he moved to Florida in 1989. He and his son had a fruit stand on his property and noticed people who were hungry would take items without paying.

“My son told them, ‘You don’t have to take it, just ask,’” Poirier remembered. “That’s really what started us on helping homeless people. So they wouldn’t get in trouble for stealing.”

“He has such a big heart,” said McKenna, explaining why she nominated Poirier for the News 6 Getting Results Award. “He spends the greater part of his week visiting them. He doesn’t just bring them food, he brings tents, tarps, blankets and clothing.”

Poirier said he can’t explain why he spends so much of his time and money helping the less fortunate.

“I don’t know. It’s just one of those things,” he said.

Poirier told us he’s usually accompanied by his wife, Judy. And the couple stop to help others every chance they get.

“We’re here to help each other as much as possible,” Poirier said. “The Lord says we need to help each other. We try to do what we can. That’s all.”

About the Author:

Paul is a Florida native who graduated from the University of Central Florida. As a multimedia journalist, Paul enjoys profiling the people and places that make Central Florida unique.