9 Who Care Honoree Diana Myers spent decades feeding community through food pantry

Each year - KCRG-TV9 spotlights Nine people who shine for their volunteering in their community through our 'Nine Who Care Series.'
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 8:24 AM CST
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CASCADE, Iowa (KCRG) - Each year, KCRG-TV9 spotlights nine people who shine for their volunteering in their community through our 9 Who Care Series.

Diana Myers has spent decades feeding the hungry and making Christmas a little merrier for children.

It all started while running errands around 20 years ago.

”I was walking into the post office, and the lady that was running the pantry at the time said, ‘Diana, would you like to take over running the pantry?’ And I didn’t hesitate, I said yes,” recalled Myers.

That’s the same answer she’s given in those decades to anyone who needs assistance.”

It’s just amazing how many families and people I’ve met in 20 years,” she said.Through those decades, she’s helped countless people. Including those who start to do better with a little bit of help.

“She was always very open,” said her adult son Greg. “She’d give out her phone number, she’s definitely gone above and beyond.”

That includes father of seven, Jeffrey Engesser, whose trips to the pantry over 10 years helped his family.

“Sometimes I get laid off in the winter time and I just don’t have it,” Engesser told TV9.

That includes meeting with people at the pantry outside of monthly distribution times, if they needed more, or wanted to receive assistance in private. Myers knows what it’s like.

“Dad worked all his life, mom took care of, we had six girls. So I saw mom struggle trying to make that penny go further with food,” she said.

What really changed her life was seeing the hunger from where her mother grew up in the Appalachians.

She’s taught the value of helping others to her son, who learned it, through volunteering the same way Diana did.

“It definitely opened my eyes that people are struggling,” Greg said. “Helping others is key, that’s something I stress nonstop, like positivity, and just helping others is everything.”

Diana also started other ways to help the community.

“I always figured if people can’t afford food, they can’t afford shampoo and toilet paper,” she said.

In 2015, she started ‘Students in Need’ at the high school, and started ‘Jam the Van’ 15 years ago.

“The staff, they take the kids and they buy them hats and gloves and my gosh tons of gifts it’s amazing,” she said.

Tom Gleason, who’s seen a lot of students in 43 years, helps with the programs.

“With Diana, it’s always about what can she do to help someone else,” Gleason said. “Every time she’s come to me, ‘Can you help me with this?’ It’s never been about helping her, it’s been about kids that need some help, students that need help and what can I do.”

Programs that will continue, after Cascade Food Pantry closed down in December when the building owner wanted to redevelop.

“Shutting that door and looking back was the worst thing I’ve ever had to do,” Diana said.

While they searched for a new place for the pantry, they weren’t able to find a right fit. She doesn’t know what... but knows there is something better ahead.

“But there’s got to be a reason we did not find a place,” Myers said. “There’s got to be a reason for it.”

While always remembering where she came from and the difference she’s made.

“I can’t imagine the number of people that she’s helped in this community,” Gleason said. “And I know there’s lots of people who have known Diana and know that’s a person you can go to for help.”

“I’ve always said if I could feed the world I would,” Myers said.