Mission Moment | West Suburban YMCA

Mission Moment: Volunteering With Togetherhood

Sara Pollock DeMedeiros

Jun 27, 2019

Mission Moment

Mission Moments are stories shared by West Suburban YMCA staff and members that demonstrate service to our community. Over the years, the work of the Y has grown and evolved, but the shared mission of YMCA’s across the world has remained constant: to deliver services and programs that build mind, body and spirit; to reflect our core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility; and to make sure that everyone has access to our programs and services.

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Centre Street Food Pantry (CSFP) with a co-worker and two West Suburban YMCA members. This excursion was part of Togetherhood, the Y’s volunteer program intended to connect people from all backgrounds to plan and carry out volunteer projects that address a real need in our community. We know that food insecurity is a critical issue in Newton and surrounding towns and this volunteer event was an important way for us to respond to that need.

Over the course of the morning, we sorted food, stocked shelves, prepared shopping bags, and cleaned refrigerators. As a volunteer-run organization itself, CSFP depends on individuals and groups like ours to prepare for their weekly shopping days, which serve over 300 families each month. The coordinator shared with us, “At the end of the evening on Tuesday we received a very large food donation that we didn't have time to stock or shelve.  Knowing that the WSYMCA volunteers were coming the next day was a huge load off my mind, and the work would get done.  The other tasks that you did (cleaning, double-bagging, labeling cartons in the store room) all seem like menial jobs, but you wouldn't believe how necessary that work is.  When the pantry is open for shopping the pace is fast, and there are multiple tasks that demand attention.  By double bagging the shopping bags and labeling the cartons, it makes our pantry volunteers that much more efficient.”

Our time at the CSFP was a great reminder of the power of the Y community. Our volunteers are active Y members and let us know that next time they will bring even more of their friends from the pool. Plus, we’ll continue our connection with this important Newton partner through our new summer food program. Our Y has been selected by the Massachusetts Department of Education as a Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) site. The Summer Food Service Program is a federally funded nutrition program that provides free meals to children ages 18 and under when school is not in session. Any children, even those not participating in our programs, can receive a free, nutritious meal Monday-Friday throughout the summer. Ours will be the first site in Newton, and we have already taken steps to ensure that CSFP’s clients know about this new resource.

A core part of our values at the Y is social responsibility for all. Our work through Togetherhood helps us bring this piece of our mission to life.