“It Takes a Village” was the theme of ONT’s 2022 Annual Breakfast and we were thrilled to gather with our village of donors, volunteers and partners on the last Tuesday of October at Blue Ocean Event Center. The Annual Breakfast is ONT’s true celebration of the efforts of so many to create a food secure region.
Institution For Savings has consistently supported the event as our Presenting Sponsor. Dana Marshall returned as our Master of Ceremonies, and Board president Eve Lee presented the Community Champion Award to our fellow Seacoast Food Providers. These organizations are dedicated to our shared mission of ending food insecurity in Northeastern Essex County. Many programs offered by the Seacoast Food Providers are completely or nearly all volunteer run. Despite financial hurdles, a global pandemic, and a weakened volunteer core, these organizations persevered to ensure everyone in our community is given access to healthy food.
Seacoast Food Providers:
Pettengill House; Among Friends Meal Program; Newbury Food Pantry; Rowley Food Pantry; Georgetown Council on Aging; Salisbury Council on Aging; Merrimac Council on Aging; Groveland Council on Aging; Abundant Food Pantry (Georgetown); Community Action, Inc; Amesbury Council on Aging; Our Neighbors' Table
Thank you to all of the sponsors and donors who helped raise a record breaking $97,000!
As we look to the future, ONT was excited to unveil the developing Seacoast Food Hub project that will increase food security across the Lower Merrimack Valley.
See you all next year!
Thank you to our 2022 Champion Sponsors
Steve Blanchette is no stranger to positively impacting his community. He currently serves on the finance committee at Newburyport Bank, The Firehouse Center for the Arts, Immaculate Conception Parish, and the Saint Basil’s Salvatorian Center. In 2017, he was looking for ways to positively impact his community and began volunteering in ONT’s warehouse. Since then, he has been a cornerstone of our Wednesday Meal by generously donating his time and resources through the Sponsor & Serve program. He first started at the meal to get involved in the community and teach his sons about giving back. He mentioned the importance of “teaching the kids that not everything is about us all of the time. We are in a position to help and it's important that we do.” Steve believes in treating every guest as though they are dining at a 5 star restaurant.
Steve grew up in Georgetown before attending Pennsylvania State University. After graduating, he began work with Alliance Bernstein in New York City and subsequently moved to Newburyport in 2003. In his free time, Steve enjoys spending time with his wife, two sons, and Golden Retriever. He also enjoys skiing and playing soccer.
The ONT Market and Meal Sponsor & Serve opportunities offer a unique chance for group volunteer service with a financial commitment. When the “serve” portion of the program was interrupted in 2020, Steve decided to continue his sponsorship and make frequent donations to the Wednesday Meal. When asked about why he wanted to continue his involvement in the program, Steve said, “We weren’t sure where the world was going to be headed at the time and we did not want to leave our ONT community hanging." Steve encourages participating in Sponsor & Serve to support both the volunteers and guests. “You are helping people who are hungry and also helping people who give up so much time for ONT. There is no downside whatsoever.”
Thank you for all of your support Steve!
When/why did you first serve at the meal?
Not exactly sure, We got involved with ONT prior to the pandemic. I have to give my wife credit as she was seeking ideas to get our family involved with volunteering in the community. We found it important to teach our boys community ideals, and learned to help through my business. We sponsored the last time it was available to sit down in person. It was a great experience and we were able to treat the guests like they were at a 5 star restaurant. I tried to maintain how much I was giving throughout the pandemic. No one knew what to do when covid started so we stayed in touch to make sure that we could help. I realized I wanted to commit to something more substantial. I met with Lesley to figure out what I could do moving forward. We were able to still sponsor the meals even though we weren't’ hosting in person.
What did it mean to sponsor through the pandemic even when you couldn’t serve?
We weren’t sure where the world was going to be headed at the time and we did not want to leave our ONT community hangings.
What was it like to come back to serve in 2022?
It was different but it was rewarding and we were grateful for the opportunity. We saw a volunteer named Nancy (Linda) and how much she knew everyone, we felt like our job was to support her and let her engage with the guests. It’s amazing to see how much goes into the program.
What is your favorite part of serving the Wednesday Meal?
I felt such a great feeling from what I was trying to show my kids, I felt like that were spending our time selflessly and teaching our kids the importance of being around a community of people that want to help. Everywhere else you go, people are in it for their personal gain. We wanted something local.
What would you like to tell others who are thinking of participating in Sponsor & Serve?
I feel like its a great opportunity to get involved with the community. It's active- it’s an easy way to do something really nice and help those who need it. Not only the people who are being fed, but also the people who are providing the food. The volunteers have varying schedules and being able to provide an extra hand was a great feeling. You are helping people who are hungry and also helping people who give up so much time for ONT. There is no downside whatsoever. The volunteers have done it a million times and can guide you through the process!
1. How long have you lived in the area?
Since late 2003. Almost 20 years.
2. Where did you grow up?
Georgetown MA, went to school in PA and came back in 2003
3. How long have you been volunteering?
Probably around 2017/2018 in the warehouse and started the Wednesday Meal right before the pandemic.
4. What do you love about volunteering?
I love doing things like that with my family, feeling like we are doing something important and teaching the kids that not everything is about us all of the time. We are in a position to help and it's important that we do. Also, I love what I do for work but I like focusing on other things that don’t include me. I specifically enjoy making people feel at home when they come to ONT and reassure them that there isn’t anything wrong with shopping.
Please share a memorable moment.
It meant a lot to the guests to see young faces and treat everyone like they are at a 5 star restaurant. I remember a lot of nice smiles and grateful people. I also remember some people struggling and being able to help them carry things to their car. It felt good to go the extra step for people.
8. What do/did you do for a living?
I am a financial planner, private wealth advisor, and owner of The Blanchette Financial Group, Inc. After a long career in the financial planning world, I knew I wanted to offer something beyond what the bigger firms delivered, personal touch and a real connection with my clients. I work diligently to help clients and their families achieve their very specific and unique financial goals.
9. What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?
I love skiing with my family. I play men’s league soccer and I try my best to support the community. Spend time with my family and try to stay active. My dog is always in my shadow.
10. Are you involved in any other volunteer activities?
My boys are getting older and I am trying to be with them as best I can before they go off to school. I've had to be a bit more selective with my time. He currently serves on the finance committee at Newburyport Bank, The Firehouse Center for the Arts, Immaculate Conception Parish, and the Saint Basil’s Salvadorian Center.
Need is on the Rise Again
Darling Consulting volunteers after their Market Sponsorship.
Sponsor and Serve Details
Wednesday Meal: 2 - 4 sponsor volunteers help package up to-go meals and pass them out the guests. Available Wednesdays from 3pm - 5pm.
Amesbury Market: 4-6 sponsor volunteers help pack the customized grocery orders for guests. Available Thursdays - Saturdays for 2.5 to 4 hour shifts, timing based on the day.
Sponsorship Cost: starting at $500
Next Steps: Interested in scheduling your meal or market sponsorship date? visit https://www.ourneighborstable.org/group-opportunities.html to learn more or to get your preferred date booked.
Bring on Summer! Grocery Program is a Lifeline
News & Events
Welcome to our New Staff!
ONT has recently welcomed a few new members to the team since January: Dan Brinkman, Office Operations Manager; Joanne Barnes, Director of Finance/HR; Nic Popoli, Warehouse Assistant; Brendan Burke, Associate Director of Supply Chain & Logistics; and Ben Quintal, Community Engagement Coordinator. They each play an important role in ONT’s mission to achieve food security in our region and we are so grateful to have them on the team! We’re still growing. If you’d like to join our team, visit ourneighborstable.org/jobopportunities.
ONT Ambassadors Hit the Streets
With safety guidelines in place, ONT is excited to be back out in the community hosting tables at our favorite events! Thanks to those who came to learn more about ONT at the Amesbury Block Party, the Amesbury, Newburyport and Salisbury Farmers’ Markets, Yankee Homecoming, and the Car Show! See you at the next event!
Local Leaders Deepen their Efforts
Through ONT’s Food Security Advisory Group, our local superintendents, mayors, councils on aging and health providers have made food access a priority across the region. This leadership helped mobilize every sector at the outset of COVID. This year, leaders are ensuring their teams are informed and
equipped to recognize and respond to food insecurity.