Remembering 25 Years of Service to Second Harvest
Late last year, Second Harvest’s longest-serving volunteer passed away after a lifetime of service to others. Tristram Coffin, Jr. and his wife, Marvel, began volunteering with Second Harvest shortly after our founding in 1982.
Their daughter, Cheryl Johnson, says her parents were instrumental in helping to get the first Second Harvest facility up and running. “After a career with the Better Business Bureau, my Dad knew people at a lot of local businesses. He worked to help get freezer space at these places until Second Harvest could get a big enough one of their own,” Cheryl says.
“He helped out a lot with the bookkeeping. Even after computers became more common, he became a check on the computers,” she said. “My mother had been his executive secretary at the Bureau, so she brought those skills to the front offices of Second Harvest.”
Mr. and Mrs. Coffin joined the ranks of many retired veterans who have volunteered at Second Harvest. They met in Miami (she was a WAVE who outranked him) shortly after World War II following his service as a Navy Signalman. He went on to enjoy a long career with the Better Business Bureau in Amarillo and New Orleans, and was an active Rotary member in both cities. After he retired, fellow members of All Saints Episcopal Church in River Ridge recommended Second Harvest as a volunteer opportunity.
Mr. Coffin’s decades of work at Second Harvest received both local and national attention. He was recognized for his volunteer work by the city of New Orleans at a Saints game and, in 2006, President George W. Bush presented him the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
Following his passing, Mr. Coffin’s family let us know that he had left a very generous gift to Second Harvest in his will. His daughter explained why.
“I think Second Harvest really became his life, the people there became his family,” Cheryl says. “It was very important to him. As he got older, he didn’t drive, and Second Harvest would arrange to pick him up and get him home in the evening. And someone at Second Harvest would always make sure he had lunch. Sometimes the receptionist would bring in a dish just for him.”
Our deepest thanks go out to the Coffin family, and especially to Mr. Coffin, whose life is a testimony to the power and reward found in serving others and the community.