There are scores of people grieving the death of Linda Ruth Bindhammer. We miss her ready humor, the sparkle in her eye, her authenticity and honesty, her mischief, her willingness to drop anything and everything to do whatever was needed, and her heart for people,– especially those who relied on her passion for the true mission of the church – to support people, anyone who needed it. We miss her faithfulness, her compassion, her care for all of us, and her protection for those who are vulnerable – including those who are food insecure, those who are elderly, those who are often forgotten. We miss her laughter, her tears, her anger and her incessantly unfiltered response to life. We miss her gifts of beautifully affectionate, effusive and grateful cards and emails, and her constant prayers for all of us…. and we find ourselves bereft to lose such a person as this in our personal and collective lives together.
Linda was an administrative genius, both in her employment and in her volunteer work with Hope’s Table Community Center located at the Wharton United Community Church. In the past 20 years, it was her steadfast administrative mind that built the ground upon which Hope’s Table grew from a small closet of a food pantry to a community center which brought in over 65 volunteers who laughed and cried together….and who lifted and slung and found room for 2000 lbs. of food on a weekly basis. She was the person who would accept and process the proverbial 1000 lbs of rotten and good potatoes in order to make sure the good ones got into food pantry patrons’ hands. She was the person who would use her car like a truck, climb in the driver’s seat with boxes falling over her shoulders, laughing, as she brought home another load of food for the pantry. She was the one who then began to pay for a U-Haul so that others who might not want boxes falling over their shoulders could pick up the food needed as she became less able. She was the person who the Community Food Bank of NJ looked to when they had extra grant money to share. Before COVID, Hopes Table food pantry fed over 50 families/week – over 10,000 persons/year. During COVID, it was Linda who set up the standards of cleanliness and safety even though her last year of medical vulnerability prevented her from being physically present. That inability to be present with her extended food pantry family broke her heart. But she kept on. Behind the scenes, she kept the records, communicated with CFBNJ even when she could barely speak and her breath became more and more shallow. It was Linda who continued to work through how to distribute food safely in such a time as COVID.
Linda was an active member of the Skylands District Emmaus community where she financially and spiritually sponsored many of the church members for their walks in this spiritual growth retreat which brought many persons together from Northern New Jersey. She found within Emmaus a community of unconditional love to which she readily lent her efforts.
Linda vividly tattooed her arms, her legs, her shoulders and back with that which mattered to her, including birds and a wheelbarrow in memory of her father Pierce Irwin, an angel on her back. A bee with an exquisite flower on her arm became her symbol to “bee kind” along with a reminder to protect bees and their pollination….that tattoo reminded us all of the importance of just simply being kind to one another as we walk this earth together.
Linda was a powerful friend to so many. There is a gaping hole in so many lives.