Healthy Helps Team Members Shares Their Stories
On Saturday, May 2, Laura and I got the chance to deliver food to different households from Evangel Food Pantry. We had five households connected with our church, and were assigned five additional households from Evangel. When we arrived at the food pantry to pick up the parcels of food, it was extremely busy, with many volunteers sorting, packing, and distributing to people who were there to pick up food. We got our ten parcels and for the next 2.5 hours we drove around to different places in Astoria to deliver the food, including a few apartments at the NYCHA Astoria Houses. It was humbling to be able to provide even short-term needs in our neighborhood during this crisis, and the work that Evangel is doing is amazing. Being quarantined at home, it has been a fulfilling outlet for me to get out and serve, and as long as I stay healthy I plan to sign up for food delivery again.
During this pandemic I have felt a continual sense of hopelessness. Questions surrounding whether to go out or not, where best to help and how to keep others safe while also serving them have plagued most of my thoughts. Last week I finally got out to help at the food pantry. Our team of 4 spent the time stacking shelves and filling bags with food to be distributed the following day. The work was simple but fun and everyone wore gloves and masks while social distancing as much as possible. It was such a joy to be reminded that life does go on. That people are out there serving and loving the community. Just because I might spend most of my time isolated inside doesn't mean the world has stopped and doesn't mean that I should be checking out. It was a small thing to serve but made a huge impact on my mental well being. I have the agency to get involved without endangering others and at the end of the day I can make choices to the best of my ability knowing that God is in control. These food banks are so necessary during this time and it was great to be a small part of that. I would highly encourage anyone wanting to help, but not sure where, to serve at the food pantry.
--Jennie Holt Daniels
I've really enjoyed volunteering at the Hour Children Food Pantry and also delivering food for Lifeline Groceries. It is exciting, as a Christian, to discover ways to connect with people from our neighborhood. Working with these organizations has driven home to me how real the needs in our community are right now. Many people are truly hurting and in need of help.
Serving at the food pantry is a tremendous blessing. Although I’m a line monitor ensuring social distancing and controlling the rate of people approaching the pickup station, I feel great connection with the people waiting. When I hand out masks, I make sure to greet everyone and look in their eyes as I ask how they are doing. Some are anxious and share that they haven’t received any unemployment checks yet. Others share worries about paying rent, finding work, buying food, or sick family members. We feed about 200 people each time, but the food pantry outreach is about more than just feeding others. Everyone on the team truly desires to make the community feel loved. When Jesus looked at the multitude, He was moved with compassion. Serving hungry people gives us an opportunity to experience His heart for them. We can only love our neighbors as ourselves because He graces us with His love for them. Listening to their worries, encouraging them, and then seeing their eyes light up when they reach the table and see the bags of food that were prepared for them is a powerful picture of all that God has done for us. I pray for all who come for food that they will hunger for true spiritual sustenance and find salvation in Jesus. I know we are there to help feed the people, but I leave for home feeling as if my own heart was fed and watered.
-- Tina Liouzis
In coordinating our church’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, I have been awed by the efforts of churches, nonprofits and informal networks. Our ACC family and neighbors have selflessly given their time, talents and money to aid those who are in need. The human spirit truly is made in the image of God and in times such as these, we see this more clearly. I’m convinced that suffering can bring us to God to receive saving faith, can deepen our relationships with Him OR can draw us further away from God. There is much at stake during extreme times like these. May we continue to find ways to draw closer to Him and to reach out beyond ourselves.
-- Andrea Mungo