Making an Impact on the ONT Board
By Eve Lee, Chair of Our Neighbors' Table Board of Directors
Are you looking for a new way to share your time and talents with Our Neighbors’ Table (ONT)?
The ONT Board of Directors is currently seeking new members for both the board and for several of our committees. You don’t have to have previous experience serving on a non-profit board, but that’s certainly a plus.
Prior to joining the ONT board three and a half years ago, I had been volunteering at ONT for about a year or so, and I was also a member of the Fundraising committee. The mission of ensuring food security has always resonated with me, and it’s where I have chosen to focus most of my volunteering over the past 20+ years. After quickly realizing how special the ONT community was, I knew I wanted to do more.
But, in all honesty, I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to join another board. I had served on the board of another organization for four years, and I didn’t love it. I loved volunteering at the other place. I loved being on their fundraising committee. But, the board, eh, not so much. It wasn’t for me. The meetings felt like an extension of my already long workday. It wasn’t much fun and I didn’t feel a fulfilling connection to the mission. It felt like work.
But the Our Neighbors’ Table board is different. That’s not to say that being on the ONT board isn’t work – because it is. It’s a serious commitment. We have bi-monthly meetings and often have conference calls in between. We are expected to do our homework - whether that be reading reports, reviewing financials, or learning how to become more effective board members – and to come to meetings prepared to weigh in on important decisions. I feel like I’m an integral part of the mission to ensure that food security becomes a reality in our region. And, there’s not one board member who isn’t there for that same reason. In every board meeting, that singular mission shines through and guides all that we do.
And, like everything associated with ONT, the board is made up of the nicest group of people you could ever hope to meet. I’ve had the good fortune to get to know so many interesting, smart folks whom I might not have met otherwise. I learn something from each of them every time we meet – and I’ve made some great new friends.
But, really, the best part of serving on the board is partnering with Lyndsey Haight and the entire ONT staff. It is an honor to be able to support their vision - and the hard work that they do every day.
If you are interested in learning more about board membership – or serving on any of the various ONT committees – please reach out. I would be happy to share my experiences and answer any questions. The ONT Board is hosting a Meet & Greet on Tuesday, October 26 after the Annual Breakfast. RSVP to join us (either in-person or virtually) to chat more about the board opportunities. Hope to see you there!
Our Neighbors’ Table’s grocery programs remain open in the curbside pick-up. Our priority is and will continue to be ensuring people have consistent, reliable access to food as safely as possible.
ONT shifted to an entirely curbside model for grocery distribution on March 2020 and will remain operating in the curbside pick-up model for the foreseeable future. Guests can pre-order groceries online and schedule the time to pick-up. If you cannot order online, please call 978-388-1907 to place your order. Groceries will be delivered directly to your car during your scheduled pick-up time. If you cannot leave your house, please have someone pick up for you. If you need delivery, please call 978-388-1907.
Ordering is for next day pick-up. We're sorry but we cannot process same-day pick-ups. Please place your order by 3:00pm the day before you want to pick it up. New guests must fill out a guest registration form before ordering and allow 24 hours for processing.
Curbside pick-up will be available at the following locations.
Amesbury Market - Our Neighbors' Table, 194 Main Street
Wednesday Meal - Main Street Congregational Church, 145 Main Street, Amesbury
In addition to ONT's programs, we are maintaining an updated list of food resources across the region. You can view this list online or download a copy to your computer. Remember to check back regularly as things continue to change.
To do our part to minimize risk of infection and to allay fears of exposure in our community, ONT is taking the following steps:
How can you help?
Lyndsey Haight, Executive Director, x11
Lori Townsend, Program Director, x12
Your help is needed
None of us could have dreamed of the reality we all face today. Without notice, our schools had to close, local businesses had to be shuttered, and life seemed to turn completely upside down.
In the last 2 weeks, I've spoken to longtime ONT volunteers who are afraid to leave their homes; a mother who, along with her husband, has just lost her job and is worried about keeping it together for their 2 children; a woman who was supposed to start her job as a census worker and now has no income to pay her rent; a retired veteran who lives alone, with no children, who is glad he can come to ONT, even if it's just pulling up in his car, to see some friendly faces.
These conversations remind me that Our Neighbors' Table is more than just the food on our shelves, ONT has always been a source of community and connectedness. Something we are all craving right now. My late grandmother always had a fondness for lighthouses. In these stormy times, I want you to know ONT is here to be a beacon of hope and light. All of our work over the last 28 years has prepared us to be a lighthouse for our community.
And now, I need to ask everyone who can, to pitch in. If you can give $10, give $10. If you can give $1,000 or more, now is the time. Join our Breakfast Club to make your donation in monthly installments.
Our priority is and will continue to be ensuring people have consistent, reliable access to food, and, as always, to do it with kindness. To do this we have had to completely change our program operations to keep our guests healthy and safe. After spending 4 years growing our markets, this week we had to close their doors and shift to an exclusively curbside model with very little preparation time.
Here’s a glimpse of what that change has meant in 1 week:
These last two weeks were hard, but now the real work begins. Now we will be serving a surge of new neighbors who face economic uncertainty in the coming weeks and months. In addition to the 600 households we were already serving each week, we've already registered 65 new households (with nearly 200 mouths to feed) just since March 16.
Our neighbors are counting on ONT when they have nowhere else to turn. Are you in a position to help? Every dollar matters, please give what you can.
Be well and take care,
With spring fast approaching (hopefully!), Our Neighbors' Table is looking to our annual tradition of giving out Easter baskets filled with toys and candy to our families with children. It's a small touch that brings a lot of happiness to children (and their parents) this time of year.
But in order to make it happen, we need YOUR help! There are 2 ways to help, by giving time and/or items for the baskets.
1. Fill a Child’s Easter Basket
2. Volunteer to help assemble Easter Baskets – KID FRIENDLY!
Thank you in advance for your help in bringing Easter joy to our local children and families this spring!
Did you know you can volunteer at the ONT Market with your children? ONT’s WEE Can Help! program provides a wonderful opportunity for children ages 4-10 to come in for a Market Stocking shift! Young volunteers perform the important task of restocking our shelves on Wednesdays from 4-5pm. This is a great chance for parents to teach their children about giving back to their community in a kid-friendly space.
The program is limited to ensure the best experience for every volunteer. All children must be accompanied by an adult that has attended volunteer orientation prior to coming in for a shift. If you have not attended an orientation yet but would like to, please fill out an online volunteer application here. WEE Can Help! is ideal for individual families rather than large groups.
If you’re looking for an opportunity that is suitable for both individuals and groups, consider Fill ‘Em Up Bags! All are welcome to participate in this program at any age, whether they’ve been through orientation or not.
The goal for each person participating in Fill ‘Em Up Bags is to raise $30. This would provide dinner to a child for a whole month! Each participant will decorate their Fill ‘Em Up Bag, then ask friends and family to help fill the bag. No donation is too small. $1 or $10, every donation counts! (Please do not collect food items. Checks made out to Our Neighbors’ Table also accepted.)
Ready to get started? Download the Fill ‘Em Up Bag logo, color it, and attach it to the bag (brown bag, grocery bag, gift bag, etc.). Once you’re finished fundraising, contact Melanie to arrange a time to drop-off. We’d love to give your kids a tour so they can see the impact of their donations!
If you have any questions about any of the above, please don’t hesitate to email Melanie or call (978) 388-1907 x. 21.
WEE Can Help!!!
Our Neighbors' Table is a place where the whole family can get involved in the fight against hunger in our community.
Some of our most inspiring supporters are our littlest ones. Children come to our doors with food or toothpaste they've collected for neighbors; with checks made out to ONT they've requested from family members instead of birthday gifts; or with their fellow scouts eager to learn about how they can help their community.
The ONT WEE Can Help! program offers special shifts tailored for volunteers ages 5-7 years, accompanied by their favorite adult. WEE Can Help volunteers perform the important task of stocking our Market shelves after it closes on Wednesdays. It's a great opportunity to learn counting, reading labels, grouping, and a sense of helping others. WEE Can Help is also a great chance for parents to teach their children through their own volunteerism.
Shifts are limited to ensure the best experience for every volunteer. All accompanying adults are required to complete a volunteer application and attend a volunteer orientation prior to registering for WEE Can Help shifts. For more details, feel free to email Alice or call her at 978-388-1907 x15.
A Child's Christmas Wish
Tonight, Santa will make his annual visit to the Our Neighbors' Table Wednesday meal. Each year, he comes to dinner to visit with our guests, young and old. Children get dressed in their frilly dresses and bows and sweaters and ties. And the excitement bursts from their faces the moment they see his jolly face.
This is a special time of year, when cheer and gratitude fill the air. I’d like to share a favorite story about a very special gift we received at a previous Santa visit. Some of you may have heard this story before, but it is worth retelling as it captures the true essence of the season of giving.
On this particular night, the crowd had gathered as usual to see Santa Claus - many familiar faces sprinkled with new families coming for the first time. As I was greeting and lining children up for their photos, a woman dressed festively in an elf hat and holiday sweater pulled me aside. "My son has something he wants to say to you," she said.
I knew this woman, we'll call her "Lynn", and her son "Steven". Lynn is a single mother with two young boys. She works as an assistant manager in a fast food restaurant. Her mother, who also struggles financially, provides help with the boys when she can. The family shops weekly at our market and is especially grateful for the extra food that comes with the Summer Lunch Program.
So back to the Christmas dinner. I bent over so I could hear Steven" as he stands closely to his mother, looking bashfully at the floor – his voice so soft and hard to hear in the crowd.
"Hi, Steven. Merry Christmas!" I say.
Steven slowly looks up at me with his big brown eyes and barely whispers "Merry Christmas" as he holds out his hand. As I look down, I see a crisp $10 bill folded neatly in his fingers. And he is handing that $10 to ME!
Surprised and a bit confused, I ask Steven “What’s this?”
"I had a birthday and I got this birthday money."
"And you're giving it to us?" I asked. "Why?"
Steven looked at me with a shy smile and replied, "So you can help families who come to Our Neighbors' Table."
My heart nearly burst! I couldn't help but wrap my arms around him and give him a big squeeze. Steven, his mother and grandmother continue to come to dinner at ONT and use the market when things get tight. Steven has grown since his birthday donation, his shoulders getting broader, his face taking on the strong jawlines of a young man. His voice is strong, no longer a whisper. He talks about football and his favorite cars.
This holiday season, if you were thinking of giving, but wondered what an impact your gift would have, think of Steven and his family. Every day they struggle. But for Steven, the meals he gets at Our Neighbors’ Table have already given him hope. Steven knows, even on his tough days, that he has the power to make life a little better for someone else. His is the kind of gift that keeps on giving.
Today, in our community, 1 out of 8 children lives in a food insecure household, uncertain if they will get their next meal. We have the power to fix that, and, with the community’s support, with YOUR help, Our Neighbors’ Table can ensure no child in our community has to go hungry.
This year, ONT will put more than 1 million meals on the table for families like Lynn and Steven, that’s twice as many as we distributed last year. Every $1 you give equals 1 meal!
Happy Holidays to you and yours from all of the families here at Our Neighbors' Table!
Steven's compassion is an example to us all. Will you join him in helping a family who needs help? Give the gift that keeps on giving.
Now's your chance to change lives!
ONT will be hosting a food drive this Saturday, July 18th, 9a-3p, at the Market Basket in Rowley. We're hoping to fill our box truck to help keep our food pantry programs stocked through the summer.
Most people think of holding a food drive during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. But the reality is hunger is prevalent in our community year-round. Summer months are particularly hard for families whose children typically get free- and reduced- meals at school.
1 out of every 8 children and more than 1 out of every 5 seniors in our area are facing hunger and need our help.
Join us on Saturday, 9am-3pm, at Market Basket, Rte. 1, Rowley, and donate non-perishable food items and toiletries to help us keep food on our neighbors' tables all year. Check out our wishlist for our most-needed items. See you Saturday!
Fil-A-Cruiser hits 10 years!
Amesbury Police Department will host its annual Fill-A-Cruiser Food Drive on Saturday, November 22nd for the 10th year in a row! Officer Tom Hanshaw has been leading this initiative year after year. What keeps him going? I continue to help out because I see the need in our own community on a daily basis. Young families, single moms, senior citizens and people who develop health issues depend on ONT. Hosting the Fill A Cruiser is that little bit we can do as a group to help out.
Once again, members of the APD will partner up with local students and volunteers to collect your donations in front of Stop & Shop, Amesbury, from 9am - 2pm on the Saturday before Thanksgiving - the busiest food shopping day of the year! The event is boosted by the support from the local shops in the Carriagetown Plaza, including Papa Ginos, who provides free pizza to the volunteers, and Stop & Shop who provide coffee and hot chocolate and really help to promote the drive inside their store. RTN Credit Union will be accepting donations all week leading up to the drive. Whether you're shopping on Saturday or can just swing by to drop off donations you've picked up earlier in an another place, ultimately this day is a success because of YOU!