“Food was always a big part of our family gatherings,” he said. “I am happy to know that we play a part in feeding families. I truly enjoy the human connections that we make while [serving]; building relationships with some patrons who come regularly; caring for those who have fallen on hard times and are coming for the first time; [and] humbly serving next to other volunteers week after week.
“Living down the street from the food pantry, my most rewarding moments are with my children. Occasionally, our schedules will have us driving by the food pantry while it is open. The children will ask to go serve. No matter what is going on, we will make time to do it. It warms my heart to see them experience the joy of serving others.”
Located at 201 W. Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville, the Red Door Food Pantry is situated on the corner of Bartow and Church streets, behind the Episcopal church. Affiliated with the Atlanta Community Food Bank since 2013, the outreach ministry is open Tuesdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 to 11 a.m.
To help Red Door Food Pantry expand its efforts, the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia recently awarded a $30,000 grant to The Episcopal Church of the Ascension’s outreach ministry. The funds were used to purchase a refrigerated truck that will be converted into a mobile food pantry to serve south Bartow.
• Name: Jeff Tindall
• Age: 37
• Occupation (title): Managing director, Tindall Media LLC
• City of residence: Cartersville
• Family: My wife, Tiffany; and two children: Elyse, 9, and Jacob, 4
• Education: Georgia Institute of Technology, Bachelor or Science in Computer Science
DTN: How did you get into your line of work, and what do you enjoy most about it?
JT: I started by scrubbing toilets at the office of the family business in Marietta. My father started a health care software company in the late 1980s. I remember watching him start the company in our basement as I was growing up. It wasn’t long before he moved into a formal office and had employees. My first paying job was as the office janitor before I could even drive. I slowly learned about computers and began doing some internal IT work in high school. Before long, I was supporting clients, and by the time I graduated college, I was leading the team to build the third generation of our software platform. I really cherish the time I got to spend with my dad for all of those years. I learned a lot of valuable life lessons through this experience.
The best part of my job is being able to turn problems into profits. I love solving problems. Having grown up in an entrepreneurial environment, I tend to look at problems from a business perspective first and then from a technical perspective. It is beautiful to see an elegant solution evolve when collaborating with passionate business owners. It can really transform a business and that is a very fulfilling feeling.
DTN: What is your title with The Episcopal Church of the Ascension’s Red Door Food Pantry, and when and why did you initially join this outreach ministry?
JT: Logistics coordinator. We began attending the church at The Episcopal Church of the Ascension in 2011. Shortly after a time change, I arrived to church an hour early by mistake. Shortly after arriving, I ran into some new folks who were bagging food. I joined them and bagged food for about 30 minutes. Turns out they ran the food pantry. I found out a few weeks later that they were leaving the church and someone was needed to organize the ministry. No one else was stepping up, so it seemed like a good time to volunteer. Looking back, it is clear that the Holy Spirit was at work that day.
DTN: Share some details about the food pantry, the number of people it serves. Why do you feel it is an outreach effort that the community needs to rally around?
JT: We served over 78,500 pounds of food to over 9,000 of our neighbors in Bartow County [in 2017]. In addition to the regular food pantry, we also support the Backpack Buddies program in the Bartow County School System. Of the 9,000-plus people that we serve, 38 percent are children and 9 percent are senior citizens. We are also one of the few food pantries that also distributes dog and cat food to our patrons with animals thanks to support from the League for Animal Welfare. One thing I think is really special is that more than 50 percent of our volunteers come from the community. We have a number of opportunities for people to get involved from our weekly distributions to monthly truck unloadings.
DTN: What are your future goals with the Red Door Food Pantry, especially its mobile service that will assist south Bartow?
JT: We are really excited about our opportunities to have a greater impact in the community. Our strength is coordinating, organizing and distributing food to the community. With our recent BLESS Coalition partnership, we are able [to] leverage our strengths and join together with other organizations [to] make a greater impact in our community. The current focus is to help our neighbors in south Bartow break the cycle of generational poverty. We recently received a grant to purchase a refrigerated truck and are converting it into a mobile food pantry. As we mobilize in south Bartow, we hope to continue to partner with other organizations and leverage this vehicle to serve our neighbors and help lift them up. In fact, our upcoming Mardi Gras Benefit on Feb. 2 at the LakePoint Champions Center will go a long way to fund these initiatives. More information and tickets are available at www.cartersvillemardigras.com.
We are fortunate to live in a community with a number of organizations serving those in need. [Bartow County Community Redevelopment Coordinator] Patrick Nelson shared with me that it is uncommon to see the level of collaboration that we have here in Bartow County between the government, churches, nonprofits and businesses. I am hopeful that the BLESS Coalition can help unlock the secrets to our collaborative success and share it across the nation so we can help other communities achieve the same success.
DTN: Has the Red Door Food Pantry become a family affair for your loved ones? Share how your relatives also are involved and why your family feels led to be a part of this ministry.
JT: The whole family is involved in the food pantry. My wife, Tiffany, manages our relationship with the Atlanta Community Food Bank. My daughter, Elyse, holds a can drive each Christmas to collect food. My son, Jacob, conducts safety checks on the ladder and performs quality control checks on gummy snacks. And my mother, Karen, coordinates the volunteers. Our entire church family is so very supportive of this ministry with their time, talents and treasures.
DTN: Why is it important for you to give back to the community? And list some of the other organizations that you support.
JT: I pray that most other communities are as fortunate as Cartersville, but I feel that we have something special here. It is our duty to support [our] community and give back. I have found that we get back so much more than we give.
In addition to the Red Door Food Pantry at The Episcopal Church of the Ascension, I am also a member of the Rotary Club of Etowah and the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce. I am a very strong supporter of the BLESS Coalition, Will2Way Foundation, Orphan Aid Liberia, Backpack Buddies and the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter. Tiffany and I will also be participating in our third year as professional dancers with Cartersville Dances With the Stars to support the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter and Backpack Buddies.
DTN: What is your greatest professional and/or personal achievement?
JT: My greatest achievement was to learn to dance on the internet circa 2002 — this was before YouTube. I found pictures of dance steps on a website. These were the black-and-white drawings of feet on a surface where you see a footprint pointing a certain direction and a number next to it that indicates which beat it is intended for. I spent hours trying to learn Latin dancing before my first date with Tiffany — a professional dancer. We went dancing at a Latin night club in Atlanta, and I successfully convinced her that I could dance.
DTN: If you were not in your line of work, what would you like to do?
JT: I truly love to build things. So if I were not working with computers, I would enjoy carpentry and electrical work.
DTN: How would you describe yourself?
JT: Dad jokes; 01101110 01100101 01110010 01100100 01111001 [binary code for nerdy]; creative; questions everything
DTN: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
JT: I am a certified cave diver and have completed over 100 safe cave dives. It turns out that I was distracting Tiffany while she was in school to get her master’s and specialist degrees. Tiffany strongly suggested I find somewhere else to entertain myself on weekends. Since my father introduced me to scuba diving when I was 14, I decided to visit Southern Swim and Scuba where I met Sam LeFlore. A couple of months later, we were car pooling down to Florida for our first cave diving trip with the Atlanta Technical Divers. This became a monthly trip for many years to come, even after Tiffany’s graduations.
DTN: What is the best advice you have ever received?
JT: My father once told me, “Not everything worth doing is worth doing well.” This advice has had many meanings over the years, and it took me a long time to understand. To me, it means that you must be able to prioritize what is really important in life and make deliberate choices to focus your energy on the important things so that they can be done well. As life gets busy, perfection can be paralyzing. It helps to recognize that there is a choice in every situation. Know what is important, identify what is not and act accordingly.
DTN: What do you like to do in your spare time?
JT: I really love singing in the Canterbury and Schola Choirs at The Episcopal Church of the Ascension and the Northwest Georgia Summer Singers.
DTN: Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?
JT: Facebook would probably say it is a tie between Southern Muggs Coffee Shop and BANGIN’ Burgers. But my favorite place is probably the upper porch of the Lottie Moon House with my family — where, incidentally, I can also get my coffee and burgers delivered.