By Pamela DeMassi, Cornerstone Family Programs
In the midst of this unprecedented public health crisis, it was no surprise when Morristown Neighborhood House Operations Manager Mitch Perry received the call from Michael Kates, network impact manager at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, asking how he could help the community we serve.
“We’ve enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the Nabe, which has been a key partner in our food distribution network for years. We know that families are in financial crisis now and could greatly benefit from this special emergency food supply,” said Kates.
The Neighborhood House team was ready, willing and able to quickly mobilize and find a way to partner to meet the critical food needs of its economically challenged neighbors.
The Food Bank provided the Nabe team with 300 emergency food boxes of non-perishable food items that each could feed a family of four for a week or more!
In an instant, our staff reached out to our community partners and leaders to get the word out and mobilize the distribution.
“This is us doing what we do best! We know and love our community, understand its needs and find ways to help however we can,” said Linda Murphy, executive director of operations and outreach for Cornerstone Family Programs and the Neighborhood House.
First on the scene to offer volunteer support was the Men’s Ministry at Calvary Baptist Church. For two consecutive days, families who are struggling financially came to receive this gift of food right in Calvary’s parking lot.
The boxes of food were assembled at the Food Bank headquarters in Hillside. Weighing in at 20 pounds each, the boxes were fully loaded with pasta, sauce, cereal, rice, beans, a variety of produce and other durable goods that will help hungry families put food on the table and hold things together for a period of time.
“We wanted to follow a growing trend to organize as a pop-up concept and Calvary graciously offered their parking lot as the food distribution center, and volunteers to support the effort. We needed to avoid any risk to health and safety and keep it fast, simple and efficient,” said Perry of the Neighborhood House.
“Our parking lot was transformed into a virtual conveyor belt for much-needed food as more than 200 families from Morristown and surrounding communities pulled up their cars, popped open their trunks while the team of dedicated community volunteers filled them at lightning speed. It was a smooth operation and great partnership,” shared the Rev. Samaria Tillman, operations director for Calvary Baptist Church.
“I extend my deepest gratitude to everyone who served as our ‘boots on the ground’ to make this community effort possible during such a difficult time when our families need us most. Converting our ‘it takes a village’ philosophy into meaningful collective action is the only way to win this battle for our health and lives,” said Ayo Sanderson Wilson, chief operating officer and executive vice president of Cornerstone and the Neighborhood House.
For more information about how you can help us continue these and other critical efforts, please email Jackie Looby, director of volunteer services and program sponsorships.