Donning plastic aprons and matching gloves, 12 volunteers, all staff from Catholic Charities, served 530 lunches last week to homeless, poor and working-poor Bronx residents in POTS community dining room.
“You get the feeling you’re helping people and find a new appreciation for what you have,” said one of the volunteers, Catholic Charities Accounts Clerk Santa Rivera.
POTS, short for Part of the Solution, provides hot, healthy meals to its “guests” seven days a week in a bright, airy space furnished with small tables that give it the feel of a neighborhood café. The nonprofit organization serves as a “one-stop shop” that provides a wide array of assistance programs under one roof. Its goal and success comes from moving its guests from crises to stability and, ultimately, to self sufficiency. In addition to the community dining room, POTS offers a food pantry, clothing program, hair cuts, health care, mail service, family club, case management services and a legal clinic.
Serving guests at the table as if it were a restaurant, Catholic Charities volunteers participated in POTS’ model of upholding client dignity. When guests arrived, the volunteers delivered beverages and brought plates brimming with pasta and vegetables. Behind the scenes, volunteers sorted bread, prepped food and washed dishes with POTS staff. And after guests left, they cleared tables, swept, mopped and took out the garbage.
Meanwhile, fellow Catholic Charities volunteers stocked the POTS Food Pantry, a grocery-store style pantry that invites those in need to walk its aisles and “shop” for the produce, dairy, canned and packaged items they need to prepare balanced meals in their own homes.
Catholic Charities staff said their volunteer experience made lasting memories.
“We were able to see how great an impact our small amount of volunteering has on people’s lives,” said Catholic Charities Accounts Payable Coordinator Monica Parra. “And we saw how people were so grateful that we were there to help.”
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