If you stop into the GRACE Pantry on most any Friday, you will catch these two doing what they do best – serving others and having a good time as they do so. This August, Jane and Gary Chevier, who were introduced to each other by Jane’s brother in high school, will celebrate 53 years of marraige. They have quite the story that began in Ogdensburg, NY, led them to Grapevine, TX 36 years ago, and finds them blessed with one daughter, three sons, fourteen grandchildren, and, as of this past Sunday, two great-grandchildren today.
Their long-standing commitment to GRACE began decades ago, and is highlighted with memories of their daughter volunteering at The Clothing Room as a teen, conversations with Rusty Thigpen, GRACE Pantry Manager, as he then only dreamt of a facility with the capabilities that are today a reality, and more recent times working side-by-side in The Pantry with their grandkids (and their grandkids love the work!). One of the son’s family now resides in Colorado, but his children look forward to visiting their grandparents and getting the opportunity to help out at GRACE while in town.
The Cheviers were once recognized as GRACE “Family of the Year” for obvious reason, but one newsletter article cannot begin to touch upon the kindness, single-mindedness and impact Jane and Gary have so graciously bestowed upon our organization – clients, staff and volunteers alike. “For me, helping people – seeing their faces as they feel down for needing to come here – I know we are doing God’s work to make them feel dignified and know that we are here to help them out. We joke, laugh and make them feel comfortable and good about themselves,” Gary explains.
Volunteering at The Pantry is mentally uplifting, physically demanding, and spiritually meaningful. Jane and Gary express that they not only are nourishing bodies but peoples’ spirits as well. “As they walk out, we always tell them God bless you,” says Jane, who for three years volunteered with GRACE intake as a caseworker. “It might be the only smile and blessing they get all week.” Gary emphasizes his gratitude for the increase in male volunteers around The Pantry as many of the duties involve some heavy lifting, but he is grateful for the physical challenges that keep him ever active.
Jane and Gary Chevier surrounded by their loving grandchildren and great-grandchildren (one great-grandchild still in the womb at the time of the photo).
If you spend any amount of time at the GRACE Pantry you know Rusty Thigpen. The Cheviers describe Rusty as a brother. “He is the best, and we have stuck around for as long as we have in big part to him. He’s the rock and foundation, and it all filters down from him.” The couple thrives on the sense of comradeship that develops from volunteering. People come to The Pantry specifically on Fridays to enjoy sharing moments and laughs with Jane and Gary. Even their brood of young ones share a need to be close to the pair – all but the one son’s family in Colorado live within twenty minutes.
Gary, an electrical engineer who worked in the telecommunications industy for 41 years, also currently volunteers as an Ambassador at DFW Airport, collecting tickets and helping folks navigate the expansive airport among other things. For eleven years, The Cheviers have attended Good Shepherd Catholic Community, and were members of St. Michael Catholic Church in Bedford 26 years prior.
Jane enjoyed a career as a legal secretary for a time until she chose a career shift to stay-at-home mom. At age 42, she returned to college earning her degree in teaching, and proceeded to teach in local schools until a heart condition took her out of the classroom. Yet she teaches to this day, everyday, just in a different setting. It is not necessarily through words that others may learn and glean the most wisdom from Jane and Gary Chevier – their actions and hearts speak louder – but listen well because you will be enlightened. “If you can’t give back, you might as well hang it up.” Well put, Jane. Thank you for the lesson in love, Jane and Gary.