Posts Tagged ‘inwood’

Volunteers Put Down Their Frying Pans and Had a Feast

Monday, May 6th, 2013

On the very last, most beautiful day of April 2013, 143 tireless workers put down their frying pans, serving trays, aprons, and hand trucks to feast and be celebrated.  From the farthest corners of the Bronx to the Lower East Side, volunteers from food pantries and soup kitchens  supported by Catholic Charities Community  Services gathered at the Triangle Building of Alianza for the first-ever Volunteer Appreciation Event held in their honor.

The same men and women who, earlier that day, were packing 200 bags of food or scrubbing pots, got the chance to sit down to a catered meal while CCCS staff called out name after name of volunteer chefs, food packers, inventory specialists, and data base managers.  In all, 46 program coordinators and long-time volunteers from 14 different programs came up to the podium to receive certificates from Monsignor Kevin Sullivan.  Honors were given for years of service ranging from 20 to 36 years, and for those special volunteers who worked “Above and Beyond”, as their certificates stated.   These included senior Maria Sanchez, founder of St. Anthony’s Soup Kitchen in the Bronx, who has been leading the program for 20 years, and young Walter Martin, who uses his free time in between job interviews to work for no less than 4 different pantries.

“We’ve been wanting to do this for so long” said Jeanne McGettigan, Director of Emergency Food Services.  “Monsignor Sullivan and Staci-Jo Bruce, Director of Volunteer Services were the ones who finally made it happen.  It was so moving to see all of these generous, hard-working people gathered together in one place.  We really are one big team, but we don’t often get to see ourselves that way.”

Ms. McGettigan said the event organizers were particularly pleased that CCCS staff was able to make these activities completely bi-lingual.  Well over 50% of the volunteers in attendance consider Spanish their first language.  To make sure that all felt included, everything from invitations, to program cards and presentations by speakers was carried out in Spanish and English.  Project Manager Lizaura German emceed and translated as needed.  Monsignor Sullivan and Beatriz Diaz Taveras, Executive Director of CCCS traveled comfortably between languages as they thanked the volunteers for their steadfast efforts to beat back hunger in their communities.

Also delivering a rousing speech in two languages was special guest Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez of Washington Heights and Inwood.  Remembering how, during his childhood, his own family had sometimes needed food assistance, he told the volunteers that he “didn’t think twice” about dedicating Council discretionary funds to the busy CCCS pantry nearby his office.

An additional service award was presented to Christopher Melito of Credit Suisse, recognizing the company’s Day of Service, which brought 20 corporate employees to a CCCS food pantry for the day to prepare and demonstrate healthy cooking methods and give pantry customers the equipment to carry out the same practices in their own kitchens.

The feeling in the room was so joyful, and the cumulative effect of hearing story after story of faith in action was so moving, a number of staff and volunteers  stated their conviction that this first-ever event should now be considered an annual gathering not to be missed.

Deloitte Volunteers Make a Big IMPACT at Catholic Charities

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Deloitte IMPACT Day 2012 volunteers with artwork created for Beacon of Hope House.

On Friday June 8, Deloitte employees volunteered for a variety of Catholic Charities programs and agencies as part of Deloitte 2012 IMPACT Day — an annual organization-wide event where Deloitte employees celebrate the beginning of their new fiscal year by giving back to the community and the nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to service all year long.

At the Catholic Charities Washington Heights Ecumenical Food Pantry, volunteers distributed fresh produce along with new vegetable steamers to individuals from the Washington Heights/Inwood communities. The focus of this project was not only to feed the hungry, but also to provide the necessary tools for food pantry clients to prepare healthy meals for their families.

During a morning address to volunteers, Jeanne McGettigan, Catholic Charities Community Services Director of Emergency Food Services, explained the importance of healthy eating for families living in a neighborhood with a proliferation of  cheap, deep-fried food and a scarcity of fresh produce markets.

“While we work in providing food to the community, we consider ourselves public health workers,” McGettigan said.

McGettigan discussed how statistics consistently reveal that harmful health issues stemming from deficient nutrition plague low-income areas, making this project particularly important to the community.

Deloitte volunteers spent the morning preparing vegetables and learning how  many New Yorkers have come to depend on the pantry in these difficult economic times. As volunteers quickly washed and chopped broccoli, carrots, red peppers and fresh greens, a line of clients formed outside the pantry.

By lunch time, the room was transformed into a health-themed showroom. On one side of the room, bilingual volunteers individually showed clients how to use their new steamers. On the other side, a row of freshly steamed vegetables awaited clients as volunteers served them plates with various homemade dipping sauces to sample.

“The idea of giving back is always good, but our work is especially meaningful today, since we are helping people prepare healthy food and contributing to good nutrition,” said Deloitte volunteer Yohan Bobcombe.

In addition to volunteering at the Washington Heights Ecumenical Food Pantry, Deloitte volunteers also gave back at the following locations:

At Grace Institute, a Catholic Charities affiliated agency that provides tuition-free, practical job training for underserved New York area women, Deloitte IMPACT Day volunteers helped students prepare for upcoming job interviews by giving mock job interviews and assisting students with interviewing skills. View pictures of Deloitte IMPACT Day volunteers working with Grace Institute students.

At the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Center, Catholic Charities’ thriving community center located in the heart of Harlem, volunteers helped the center prepare for an upcoming open house by refreshing the building and helping it look clean and new.  The IMPACT Day team painted hallways and the exterior of the building, and also painted the outside of the “white building”, which used to serve as a coventry for women religious. View pictures of Deloitte IMPACT Day and see how volunteers dramatically refreshed the appearance of our Kennedy Center.

Another Deloitte IMPACT Day team created beautiful artwork to help improve the emotional well being and quality of life for clients of Beacon of Hope House, which operates residences and a day program for the mentally challenged in Staten Island and the Bronx. Volunteers helped paint multiple canvas paintings to be displayed in four Beacon of Hope House locations. View pictures of Deloitte IMPACT Day volunteers and the art they created for Beacon of Hope House.