Sometimes God works through miscommunication. As a godparent to four children enrolled in religious education classes, Becky Albertson thought she was supposed to help them find a yearlong service project. By the time she discovered that the requirement was for only one day of service, it was too late. Becky had given her heart to The Branches, an outreach center for the homeless in Rio Grande.
Becky contacted The Branches at a time of critical need. Still a new organization with a small budget, the shelter was feeding 80 people a day. So once a week Becky prepared 80 wholesome, homecooked meals and delivered them to Rio Grande. “It kept me really busy,” she said, “but the coordinators were so humble and grateful for whatever people could provide.” Eventually The Branches secured wider community support and operating grants, so Becky moved to serving on the board of directors.
And as for that service project? With the help of Sister Joelle Thren, it was incorporated into the CCD program. At the end of their classes as schedules permitted, children made take-away packages that Becky delivered to The Branches. For Thanksgiving children decorated oreos to look like turkeys. “The kids were so particular about the candy eyes,” Becky laughed. Another time children were invited to compose written messages to accompany their food gifts. “When you watch a first grader write out the message, God loves you,” Becky said, “you know that even little children respond. It is natural to their hearts to want to help.”
Whatever the food project that is undertaken, Becky insists that the product be wholesome and appetizing. “You never give someone else something to eat that you don’t want to eat,” Becky said. “Your palate doesn’t change just because you can’t afford to buy your own food.”
Becky knows some things about good food. She is vice president of the iconic Johnson Popcorn Company and owner of the new Farm Stand, both at the Boardwalk. Becky first started working for Johnson Popcorn when she was 14 and became general manager while she was still in her 20s. “It is ingrained in me to do this job,” she said, a job that includes managing a staff of 80 employees during the summer and juggling wholesale, wedding, and corporate orders along with retail throughout the year. As a volunteer, Becky also has helped Sister Joelle organize inter-generational dinners for CCD attendees and their families, soliciting donations from area restaurants and serving scores of people at a time.
Becky (nee Juzwiak) Albertson is a native of Ocean City and says she is still activating the lessons she learned as a child in religious education classes with Sister Elizabeth and Sister Kay. “If you really want to honor God,” she learned, “you have to use your blessings to the best of your ability.” Blessed with a wonderful family and a career that she loves, Becky knows that her positive disposition is a gift that she is meant to share. “I couldn’t imagine not doing that,” she said, adding that, to her, being a Catholic has to do with “trying to be the best version of yourself.”
Meanwhile, Becky’s food campaign spread to others in the parish. One family with children in CCD made sandwiches together on a regular basis. Another offered baked ziti. Another, desserts. Becky made sure this nourishment went to the people who needed it. When it comes to food,” she said, “I will help. Food is the most genuine way to comfort people and connect them.”