Summer CSGC Grant Update: Building Community Relationships

Throughout the summer I have had the great opportunity to work with Second Helpings, and not only meet some amazing volunteers, but also recipients of the meal. Due to COVID, we have had a limited number of volunteers each week, something which has been unideal in terms of the great spirit we created as a collective working in the kitchen in the past. However, this did allow me to partake in a greater number of tasks and take on an additional leadership role, being that I was the only volunteer consistently present every week. In preparation for the meal, we would complete tasks ranging from lemonade mixing, to packaging meals, to prepping the outdoor seating area. Then, we would transfer all the boxed meals to the serving area, and open up the serving windows. From 4:30pm -5:30pm we handed meals out of one window, and a variety of drinks from another.

A couple of my favorite memories from this summer’s Second Helpings have been seeing folks show up with three large grocery bags, and collecting meals not only for themselves, but also for others in the community. One gentleman in particular would come every week and pick up seven meals plus seven apples to bring back to others that he knew. Week after week of showing up to our window, he began to get his food pick-up down to a science. One week he’d show up with new instructions to put four meals in one bag and three in another, then the next he’d appear with an additional bag specifically for the apples, finding that they would occasionally collapse into the to-go containers when placed in the same bag. His generosity towards those in his community, as well as his friendliness and expressions of gratitude for the Second Helpings volunteers never failed to bring a smile to all of our faces.

Having now completed my third year with Second Helpings, I have come to look forward to every Monday, seeing familiar faces in the kitchen as well as at the pick-up window. It has been such a fulfilling experience, and one that has propelled my interests in serving, as well as getting to know my broader community.

-Anna Zusi ’22