In all that she does, Brenda Russell reflects her love of helping and praise of the Lord: As the director of God's Food Pantry and as the proud mother of three children.

In fact, just recently her children have given her what she called one of her biggest personal accomplishments to date.

"I just graduated all three kids in one week," she said.

"That will never happen again. It's been so emotional for me."

She even received a gift from the three, a plaque with all three tassels attached.

Oldest daughter Breanna earned a masters degree in Speech Therapy from Western Kentucky University, daughter Brooke earned a bachelors in Business from Lindsey Wilson College, and son Bryce graduated from Southwestern High School.

Between her family and the support she receives from the board of God's Food Pantry, Russell said, "My heart's just so full. I'm so blessed."

She extends that to those she helps through the food pantry, saying she also feels blessed to be in Pulaski County.

Russell has been the executive director for God's Food Pantry for five and a half years, being hired while still working as marketing coordinator for Somernites Cruise.

She worked with Somernites for nine years, with a two-year overlap where she worked for both.

It is mere coincidence that the two entities share a property line - God's Food Pantry being at 119 South Central and the car show's headquarters being next door.

"I think God just has a sense of humor," she said about being a part of both organizations.

Rather, she explained, getting the job as director happened through a more circumstantial route.

One day, she said, she was at Southern Middle School when she met a woman who worked there named Pat Keeney.

Russell and Keeney connected over their love of Maltese dogs, so much so that they made plans for their respective dogs to meet.

Through that friendship, Russell met Keeney's husband, Jack Keeney.

Jack Keeney served as an interim director for God's Food Pantry. When the board advertised they were looking for a director, Russell called Jack to ask if she could meet in person to talk with him about it.

"Jack was one of my biggest advocates," Russell said, going to bat for her to help her earn the position.

Then, when finally named the director, Russell said Jack continued to support her. "Jack was a really great mentor. He was instrumental in setting me up for what I needed to do."

Just a few months after Russell took the position, Jack Keeney passed away from cancer.

A while after that, Russell was once again at Southern Middle, where she and Pat Keeney spent time talking to each other.

During a lull in the conversation, Russell said Pat turned to her and said, "Did you ever think it wasn't about the dogs?"

Russell admits she had had the same thought. She said she also feels like her position with Somernites helped her to grow the food pantry, through her networking with other.

It opened up channels and opportunities that she may not have had otherwise, she said.

Through those channels she has been able to expand the number of people the pantry can help, from 18,000 "food touches" a year to the current 55,000.

She and the board has also been able to reduce the wait period for families to come in for supplies, from its original 60 days to its current 40.

"Until we can go through the summer without the shelves going dry, we can't get it to go down to 30," she said.

Summer months, when the kids are home from school, are sometimes the most difficult for the food pantry, because donations can be lighter than around Thanksgiving and Christmas time.

To help, Russell has developed a number of other programs, such as the sack lunch program in which a meal can be handed directly to each person who walks in.

That way, people can get fed right there and then.

"Now we have the ability to say we don't turn anyone away," she said.