Retirement reception: Community honors Flint Street Fellowship director, treasurer

Thursday, March 21, 2019
The running joke at Pat Kasner’s retirement reception was about her and her mop, so she was given a brand-new mop by Paula Koch, Charlotte Vail and Donna Artzer. Pictured from left are Koch, Kasner, Vail and Artzer
David Bell

Pat Kasner is stepping down as director and board president of Flint Street Fellowship, but that doesn't mean her work is done. Kasner will still be volunteering at the food bank as often as she can.

At a retirement reception for Kasner and two other volunteers on Monday night, Eureka Springs Mayor Butch Berry said he's grateful for Kasner's hard work over the years. Berry read a proclamation honoring the work Kasner has done, saying she has been a dedicated servant to Eureka Springs and all of Carroll County. Berry then proclaimed April 18, 2019 "Pat Kasner Day."

"It's my honor to recognize Pat for her legacy of caring and the imprint she leaves on our community," Berry said. "We wish to encourage all the citizens to thank her for her friendship and dedicated service to our community."

Kasner thanked everyone for attending the reception, breaking into tears as she recounted her experience as director of the food bank.

"So many of you have supported us in so many ways," Kasner said. "I'm definitely going to come back and work at the pantry really soon. I can't imagine not seeing the volunteers. You have all been wonderful friends."

She continued, "It has been huge blessing to me. It's been a lot of work at times … but it's been the most amazing experience, and I'm so grateful. Thank you, all of you."

New board president Nile Carrothers took the podium to talk about Kasner's work and the contributions of retiring treasurer Ray Johnson and volunteer Gerry Johnson, who has handled insurance for the pantry for eight years.

"Not only has Ray been keeping the books for the pantry and for the board, but he's been hauling food back and forth for the pantry for over 16 years," Carrothers said.

"Thanks to everybody who works at the food bank for all the hard work they've done," Ray Johnson said. "As for Pat, I cannot believe what she's done. A week ago, I went to the food bank after we both retired … and guess who was mopping the floors? It was Pat."

Carrothers said it would be hard to find someone as dedicated as Kasner to take over the food pantry.

"When Pat first talked to us about retiring … we said, ‘Pat, you can't leave until you find someone to take your place,’ " Carrothers said. "Well, she's found someone to take her place."

Carrothers introduced Donna Artzer, the new director of Flint Street. Artzer said she'll be working with two other women to run the food bank.

"Now the fun begins," Artzer said. "Pat is Pat, and those are big shoes, so we decided we needed a team to replace her. Pat, we love you, we miss you and you're officially retired."

In an interview with the Citizen on March 8, Kasner spoke in-depth on her experience at the food pantry. Kasner said she started volunteering there when she moved to Holiday Island in 2002. That was when she accepted the Lord into her heart, Kasner said.

"I surrendered my life to God. Those were my exact words: 'I surrender myself to you, Lord,' " Kasner said. "I realized He knows me. He know my prayers. It just hit me immediately, and it's been an amazing, wonderful journey ever since. God put me here to run the pantry."

When she started, Kasner said, there was a small lunch program two days a week. Kasner said she disbanded that program and soon reintroduced it with more community volunteers. It didn't take long for the program to grow, Kasner said.

"We started getting more cooks, and it just started growing with God's help," Kasner said. "Now, we have a really good lunch program. A lot of people come in to eat and be with their friends and sit and talk. It's a nice little social time for them."

Kasner remembered how the pantry operated in 2005, saying things are much different now. In addition to the new lunch program, Kasner said, the pantry runs a program that provides backpacks filled with food to local schoolchildren in need on the weekends.

"That's been an amazing thing. It is so nice to know that these kids are getting something extra to eat for the weekends," Kasner said.

Kasner said she's had many wonderful memories over the years. She recalled helping a woman who had kids and a husband. Eventually, Kasner said, the woman began working full time and stopped coming in.

"Then she came in one day and said, 'I just want to tell you thank you for the help you've given us,' " Kasner said. "She said she would've lost her house if she didn't get help with food. That was an amazing story and amazing encouragement to us that what we're doing is working. You don't know how you're helping people, but you've got to trust that you are."

Kasner said she's excited to see what Artzer does at the food pantry, saying good things are ahead for Flint Street.

"It's going to blossom. There's going to be more help that will come through here for people," Kasner said. "I'm totally satisfied. I'm happy. God has answered my prayers."

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