Table Talk, Spring 2020
From the Executive Director:
As I write, our world continues to change, affecting each of us differently. Right now is really hard, for so many, for so many different reasons. But it has been a call to action for many. From whichever chair you may be reading, I’d like to use this Table Talk to give you a moment of gratitude, hopefulness, and positivity. No matter what is happening in the world, I am grateful to spend every day here at ONT with the best of humanity. ONT’s spirit is still very present, no matter what our Market or Meal might physically look like. Volunteers and guests exchange warm smiles through the windshield, over the rims of their masks; friendly conversation rings through the phones; and online ordering gives a sliver of dignity and choice in a seemingly oppressive time.
In the last 5 years, we’ve been working to raise awareness of food insecurity. Together, we’ve invested in increasing food access, reducing the shame and stigma in seeking help, and ensuring that whether you are a single elder, or a young family getting on their feet, you never had to worry about your next meal. There is no greater test of our impact than a global public health and economic crisis. So how have we done?
Schools/A+ - Every one of the school districts mobilized to distribute free breakfast and lunch to all of their students within a week of closing.
Seniors/A+ – Councils on Aging, housing authorities and elder services kept meals on wheels and grocery delivery constant, even expanding as needed.
Leadership: A+ – Mayors, town managers and social service directors put food access at the top of their planning lists on day 1.
Community – A+ – YOU have reached out to offer your time, make donations, pick up an order for your neighbor, create apps so people could find food. When it mattered most, our community has rallied to keep food on every table.
Thurgood Marshall said “The measure of a country’s greatness is it’s ability to retain compassion in crisis.” Our commitment to take care of each other in good times has made it possible for our compassion to translate into food security even in this crisis. We continue to serve those who were already struggling, and, without hesitation, have opened our programs to hundreds more who are scraping by. Please, continue to beat this drum, letting your neighbors know we are here for them. We are here for you.
And for those of you who have so generously given what you can to this mission, including the more than 700 people who gave to ONT for the very first time, thank you. This crisis will eventually end. Our new reality is still yet to be defined. Our 2019 Annual Report highlights some of our finest moments pre-COVID; let’s commit to making them the hallmark of our future.
Be safe, be well, be kind.
Coronavirus Impact by the Numbers
Volunteer Spotlight - Heather McPeake
When Heather McPeake sat in ONT’s community room for volunteer orientation in the summer of 2018, she never imagined she would be in the same room; packing grocery orders in a face mask. Heather and her daughter came to ONT because they wanted to do something together to give back to their community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Heather found herself working from her home in Amesbury 4 days a week for a law firm. “I hadn’t volunteered for awhile and I was feeling like I wanted to do something help during the crisis,” Heather said. And help she is! Heather has answered the call and is helping in 2 crucial areas of ONT’s program operations. Read this month's Volunteer Spotlight ››
News & Updates
Virtual Food Drives
You can help stock ONT's Market safely from home by hosting a virtual food drive! Instead of collecting items in person, you'll collect financial donations that ONT will use to provide guests with fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats and toiletries.
When Heather McPeake sat in ONT’s community room for volunteer orientation in the summer of 2018, she never imagined she would be in the same room; packing grocery orders in a face mask. Heather and her daughter came to ONT because she wanted to give back her community and do something meaningful with her teenage daughter. The two enjoyed volunteering together stocking shelves in the Market.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Heather found herself working from her home in Amesbury 4 days a week for a law firm. “I hadn’t volunteered for awhile and I was feeling like I wanted to do something help during the crisis,” Heather said. And help she is! Heather has answered the call and is helping in 2 crucial areas of ONT’s program operations. On Wednesdays, she helps pre-pack the dry goods for the Newburyport pick-up orders. Heather she loves the organization of checking off the packing list and making sure the guest gets everything they ordered.
Heather is also part of our remote support team, helping guest with their customized grocery orders over the phone if they don’t have internet access to place their order. “I love talking to the guests on the phone,” she said. “Everyone is so nice, you can tell how appreciative they are for ONT.” Despite the programmatic changes, Heather says that the ONT atmosphere is still the same. She loves the team spirit and working side by side (from a safe distance!) with her neighbors to help each other.
Heather and her husband have called Amesbury home for 15 years. When not at ONT, she loves to cook, do yoga and go for nature walks with her 15-year-old daughter. If you see her out walking her yorkie, Elsie, be sure to wave hello!