As we reflect on 2020, we must acknowledge the hard work and selflessness of our volunteers and continue to be grateful to them. Their kindness and generosity made our work possible throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. During this multi-part series, we introduce a few of the volunteers who have continued to keep LSA running. We thank all of our volunteers and supporters for making a significant impact on our clients and the East Harlem community. To read part one of our volunteer profile series, please click here.
Duncan was relatively new to New York when the pandemic hit, yet he’s managed to stay busy, volunteering with LSA since April 2020. Duncan supports the frontline volunteers by ensuring they are fully stocked with bags of food and other goods to hand out. He jokes that with how fast food is handed out, restocking ends up being intense, not unlike the marathon he ran last year!
Marathons and volunteering aren’t the only things keeping Duncan busy. In 2021, he looks forward to attending medical school, where his empathy and caring for others will serve him well.
“A lack of compassion is poignant in modern America, and volunteering with LSA helps continue their legacy of empathy,” said Duncan. “Not compassion to feel better about my actions, but rather a realization that we are all more interconnected than we realize and must share universal challenges. COVID-19 highlights the idea of our problems.”
Elianny has long been involved with LSA, first volunteering in the mentoring program over eight years ago. When the global pandemic hit, Elianny knew that the East Harlem community needed support now more than ever and began volunteering in the food pantry in March.
Her longstanding commitment to LSA puts Elianny in a leadership role guiding the volunteers who come to the pantry and teaching them the systems in place. And with making more than 600 pantry bags a week, those systems are important to ensuring that the community has their needs met (and, like Duncan, she gets in a great workout!).
Being a part of the community for so long, Elianny has seen first-hand the changes that the pandemic has had on East Harlem. “We’ve seen an increase in the vitality of the pantry,” said Elianny. “[The pandemic] has reinforced that it’s essential for people to have a trusted place for food and other essentials; even people who thought they would never rely on a pantry are coming to us now. We’re providing essential relief.”
Bill is another volunteer with long time ties to the community, having lived in East Harlem for 45 years. The COVID pandemic also called Bill back to volunteering, this time through the Benincasa organization.
Helping in the pantry, Bill has been blown away by the sheer volume of food that is distributed and the great number of people who receive it. “People are really grateful,” said Bill, “It is one of the major works of mercy to feed the hungry and I am glad to do it in a concrete way.”