From our Director, Bob Fitzgerald
Hi everyone. I hope this update finds you and your families all doing well and keeping safe.
Let’s take a quick trip through 2020.
January and February were wonderful with donations flowing in and we had so many volunteers every Saturday we couldn’t keep them busy. Everything was going as smoothly as it possibly could.
On the 7 th of March things started to change. The Coronavirus had arrived in New York and the number of guests on the 7 th was quite a bit smaller than normal.
The team met and, as a team, we decided to close on the 14 th and discussed the options going forward. We took into consideration the
recommendations from the WHO, CDC and the State and Local Governments and, in conclusion, we remained closed until the 4 th of April. This decision was extremely difficult as you can imagine. Our goal is to help the local community and closing was not helping anyone but we knew we were keeping people safe.
The pantry started up again on the 4 th and it was a slow start but as the weeks went by the number of guests increased. In adherence with the guidance and rules surrounding the coronavirus we have been setting up outside providing the ability for the volunteers and the
guests to maintain proper social distancing in addition to wearing masks. After a little while we decided that we could use additional
help and increased the size of Saturday team to 5 or 6 people.
Ordering and picking up food was, and still is, much more challenging. We have one full time person picking up food and one person doing it part time while still handling a full-time job. Due to those constraints we could not keep up with weekly demand so we decided to
open every other Saturday starting on the 16 th of May.
Starting with the 16 th of May we began to ensure our pantry goods would be sufficient for two weeks. These robust pantry packages are a pure joy to provide to our guests. Our pantry bags include fresh meat, produce, dairy, staple items and a snack bag. We are also providing pet food to our guests at least once a month.
We have been lucky to get some pet food from Long Island Cares and our pet food team Lee and John Kendrick have been able to supply a lot of dog food for our guests and their furry friends. We are supplementing food for our guests with cats by purchasing food at this time and will continue to watch the Long Island Cares menu and order pet food as it becomes available.
On Saturday we have volunteers available to help guests carry the food to their vehicles as it usually takes two or three trips to move it
from our tables to their cars. It is just wonderful to know we are able to help so many with so much food.
We have had tremendous support from Long Island Cares and Island Harvest during these trying times and without them we could not be as effective as we currently are. Congratulations to these two teams of people supporting our precious organization, hundreds of other
organizations across the island and all of the people on Long Island benefiting from the support during these troubling times.
Our distribution of sandwiches has officially been curtailed. Unfortunately, we no longer have the freezer space nor the ‘manpower’ to continue warehousing and distributing sandwiches. If you have a group that is making or wants to commence making sandwiches, we will gladly point you to potential outlets for the sandwiches and, if you would like, starting in 2021, we can report out the number of
sandwiches your organization has produced and distributed.
We have been so fortunate to have groups helping support us over the last few months. Some of the groups are; St Anthony’s High School, Sayville Gals and the LAOH Division 7. Thank you all so much for being there for us.
Lately our Saturdays have been amazing. We are providing 70+ families every time we are open. The JOY is back for the team members and the guests. We are still running with a smaller group of volunteers but we are running.
For Thanksgiving we provided the normal huge pantry packages and a turkey and the ‘fixings’ to make a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner to 105 families. Special thanks to the providers of the turkeys; GKN
Aerospace, St Francis Food Pantry NYC and Long Island Cares. Unfortunately, for the team at Hospitality Too, the elevator at St
Anne’s failed early on the 21 st of November just in time for us to provide the turkeys and pantry goods to 105 families. Fortunately, we
were lucky enough to get help from members of the Emmaus Group and the Family Life Ministry Team at St Anne’s to help carry everything upstairs. What a wonderful experience to see people pulled in by a phone call at 8:00 am, arriving before 9:00 am and organizing the movement of thousands of pounds of food up two significant flights of stairs.
I decided, watching the team carry the food up the stairs, that they were like mountain climbers carrying packs. The last week I’ve been
bringing food down those stairs and by the end of the day I’m exhausted. I don’t know how the team successfully carried all of that food upstairs in less than 2 hours. Just amazing!
The cost of elevator repair at St Anne’s is significant. I have just written a donation check to help with the repair and I’m hoping that a
few other people will be able to do the same.
We are not planning any special Christmas Celebration as we are not able to have guests in the church at this time. Hopefully sometime in the first quarter of 2021 essential workers and people at risk will be getting the vaccination for Covid19 and that by the middle of June
enough vaccinations have been provided to people that we can once again transform our precious organization and invite guests inside for a hot meal and pantry goods. Until then we will be providing pantry goods every other Saturday.
Thank you for all the support. I’m looking forward to working with the other directors to transform our dear organization when the time
is appropriate. Be well and stay safe.