Volunteer Highlight: Josey Schlact & Debbie Shuping

Josey Schlact and Debbie Shuping have been best friends for 33 years. “But it feels like forever,” says Schlact, smirking. Both women have children in their early thirties, both of whom have spent the past year preparing for children of their own. Both women call Atlanta home, but Debbie grew up in California before moving to Atlanta and attended Georgia State University and the University of Tennesee. Josey was raised in Jacksonville, Florida before her family relocated to Atlanta when she was a teen. After graduating from Tucker High School, Josey attended West Georgia and UGA. 

The pair began volunteering at SHA’s Meals with Meaning program in 2022. Debbie initially invited Josey to work with her and realized on the first trip that the ability to bypass some traffic in the HOV lane was an added benefit, declaring, “she’s my HOV bi-atch!” and making all of us laugh.

Shuping drove the Trader Joe’s East Cobb food rescue route for many years with her husband, Andy. She loved the work, but the loads kept getting bigger and bigger, and then the pandemic hit. Once it was safe to return to volunteering, Debbie looked for something less strenuous and fell in love with the Meals with Meaning program.

“But coming [to Meals with Meaning], you see your impact. You see those pickup trucks in the parking lot when you leave. You know you’re making a huge difference.” Josey interjects – “And they’re so delicious looking! Sometimes I think about taking one home with me.” 

Much like the southern women I grew up around, Josey and Debbie are witty, funny, and slightly mischievous. It’s not difficult to get them talking, and we end up on various tangents about traffic and children. They both describe the SHA community as an added bonus to volunteering.  “It’s the camaraderie!” Debbie says, and Josey agrees. Despite packing over 48,000 meal kits in their tenure, they both stress that the work isn’t difficult. But while they go to bed tired, assured that while there’s always more work to do, a thousand more families had something to eat. 

– Hugh Gruebmeyer