COMMUNITY GEMS: Fairborn couple has been feeding the hungry for more than 50 years

Jane and Bill Doorley help provide food and other basics to hundreds of people each week

The Fairborn FISH Food Pantry has changed since it first began feeding the hungry more than 50 years ago, but in one big way it has remained the same.

“It started out as the community having a big heart for its neighbors, and that’s the way it is today,” said Jane Doorley, the pantry’s executive director.

Between 500 and 800 people depend on FISH each week, said Bill Doorley, Jane’s husband of 50 years and the pantry manager. A sign directs people to the pantry at 480 W. Funderburg Road, but clients also come by word of mouth.

Garry Abfalter, who nominated the Doorleys as Dayton Daily News Community Gems, has gotten to know the couple as he has delivered vegetables for the pantry for about five years. Abfalter, a Greene County Master Gardener volunteer, helps to care for a garden that last year supplied the pantry with 570 pounds of produce like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and beans.

The Kettering man has been impressed by the Doorleys’ organization and hard work.

“They’re really dedicated to serving the community,” Abfalter said. “They’re looking at all aspects of the underserved.”

The Doorleys, who live near Fairborn and are volunteers like the other 80 or so people who help to keep the pantry alive, spend about 50 hours each week on their FISH duties. The pantry itself is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, but the couple also coordinates donations, stocks shelves, writes grants, schedules volunteers and makes presentations throughout the community.

Last year the pantry distributed half a million pounds of food, Jane said. That fed more than 10,000 families, giving about 37,000 people nearly 421,000 meals.

The pantry also helps its clients in other ways.

“When people don’t have food, that’s all they can think of,” Jane said, and so the pantry tries to address other needs to improve their lives.

For example, the pantry hosted a community health fair, and it also distributes personal care items like shampoo and diapers.

“The biggest request is laundry soap,” Bill said.

Jane knows that it can be difficult for some people to accept help from the pantry, and it isn’t unusual for struggling clients to arrive crying, saying that they never thought they would be in this situation. Clients complete a fillable PDF form while remaining in their car, and a FISH volunteer collects the requested items and delivers them to their vehicle.

The nonprofit FISH, which stands for Friends in Service to Humanity, purchases food and also receives donations from individuals, local restaurants and organizations. Drop-off donations are accepted at the pantry from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, and financial donations can be made at

Feeding the hungry has long been a part of the Doorley family, Jane said, and they even delivered food to the those in need years ago with their children, now grown. When neighbors need food or children need basics, the right thing to do is to help, she said.

That is the role of the pantry, too.

“We’re neighbors helping neighbors,” Jane said.

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