See You Next Time, Ms. Judy

Judy Bussey and the Liberty’s Kitchen family

Today, Liberty’s Kitchen said, “See you next time,” to Judy Bussey, longtime Liberty’s Kitchen friend and volunteer.

Judy, known around here as “Ms. Judy,” is from Calgary, and she first heard about Liberty’s Kitchen in 2008. She was working for the fire department and missed a chance to go to New Orleans to volunteer with the department in post-Katrina rebuilding efforts. She started a new job a few months later with an electric company, where she received 31 vacation days.

That’s when she knew she wanted to spend part of that vacation time volunteering in New Orleans.

She connected with Liberty’s Kitchen in 2010 and initially committed to spending two weeks in the city, unsure of what her days would hold. She started at Sylvanie Williams, helping out in the cafeteria. She loved the experience so much, she decided to return the next year, this time for a whole month.

And she’s been returning ever since. So, what keeps her coming back?

“The students open up to me. We mostly talk about family; maybe they feel safe with me. Maybe I remind them of their grandma!” says Ms. Judy.

As I’m talking with her, we’re interrupted by students who want to get in one more hug before she leaves. Charles and Otto walk by, exchanging hugs and inside jokes. Ms. Judy laughs and wipes away tears as they talk, exchange quips, and reassurances about keeping in touch.

The students aren’t the only ones who will miss her; the staff also looks forward to her annual return.

“Ms. Judy has become such a beloved part of our family,” CEO David Emond said. “She loves our young people and sees so much potential in them and inspires us all with her commitment to making the world a better place.”

Ms. Judy’s humility and kindness go a long way. She shared that—as part participant and part observer—she has something to learn from the students just by listening to them.

So what advice does she have for people interested in volunteering?

“You don’t try to solve whatever problem they have because you’re not going to. You just let them tell you whatever it is about their lives, whether good or bad.”

We love you, Ms. Judy! See you next time!

Contributing Writer, Michelle Mathew, Development Coordinator