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!
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!
Meet Rose Cole, a volunteer who wears many different hats at Our Neighbors’ Table. Rose heard about Our Neighbors’ Table through word of mouth, and first got involved in 2015 when ONT was headquartered out of the Main Street Congregational Church. A few years later, Rose retired from her work doing bookkeeping and she began volunteering more regularly at ONT’s brand new location at the Jardis-Taylor Center. Now, Rose volunteers every Thursday at the Newburyport Market, as well as every Friday doing check-in for the Amesbury Market, and Rose serves on the Volunteer Appreciation Committee. Rose says one of her favorite things about ONT is the camaraderie among volunteers, “When there’s a volunteer who has something going on in their life-- others help out. It feels really good to be a part of that.”
Rose was key in helping to start ONT’s Newburyport Market in 2018. ONT’s Mobile Market Manager Tracy Kane says, “It took a lot to get the Newburyport Market off the ground, and more importantly to show new guests coming to it that they were welcomed and safe. Rose was extremely helpful and patient while we got all that going, helping to demonstrate ONT’s core values.” Rose has helped with hosting the last two year’s Volunteer Appreciation BBQs in June. Rose says “I like to think about what other volunteers do, and how to honor them.”
When Rose isn’t at ONT, she likes to garden and get lunch with her girlfriends. Rose and her husband spend about a month in Florida in February or March each year. Rose has been treasurer for the last five years of a group called “Amesbury for Africa” which partners with a village in Kenya. Rose has visited Esabalu, Kenya twice.
Next time you’re at ONT on a Friday morning, say hi to Rose!
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.
Lisa Flynn wasted no time diving into volunteering after she retired, and it didn’t take her long to become a regular volunteer with Our Neighbors’ Table! Lisa retired from Welch’s (the jam and jelly company) in December last year and came to ONT volunteer orientation at the beginning of February. Lisa’s friends and amazing ONT volunteers Beth and Alan Ayres highly recommended Our Neighbors’ Table. Lisa immediately felt the power and warmth of the ONT community. “It feeds the soul,” Lisa will tell you, “The people- volunteers, guests, staff—good people doing good things.”
Very quickly, Lisa was volunteering every week at the Wednesday Meal (she’s the “Salad and Soup Lady”) and in the ONT office as receptionist. Lisa shares her professional skills by meticulously assisting ONT’s development team with thank you letters for donations, but her real passion lies in working directly with guests. “I love working with people, and being able to make someone’s life a tiny bit better feels better than anything else in this world.” She looks forward to getting trained as a guest intake volunteer so she can welcome new market guests and help them get the resources they need.
Lisa lives in Newburyport with her husband Dennis. In her free time she enjoys baking (the products of which she shares with staff and volunteers at ONT!), crocheting, and spending time with her family and dog.
As a licensed psychologist, much of Rita’s life was consumed by work and school. But she believes in the importance of giving back and always knew she would volunteer in her retirement when she had more time. “Volunteering is an essential part of who we are as a country,” Rita says. “You have to reach out to other people and put yourself in their shoes.”
Rita was aware of ONT from living in Amesbury, but she says she was naive about what it actually entailed. After orientation, she realized that ONT wasn't just about food, it was about community. She started helping with the computer on Fridays, then added Saturdays, then Thursday and then Wednesdays.
Now a fixture in the Market and Warehouse 4 days a week, Rita enjoys working with new volunteers and showing them how to use the computers at checkout. She’s also likes interacting with the guests and seeing them grow more comfortable with the volunteers each week. “I fully believe that any of us is only a few steps away from needing ONT’s services,” Rita says. “I respect that.”
When she's not at ONT, Rita enjoys photography, art, flowers, gardening, and reading. She has a goal to see all 50 states, she's currently at 25. Thank you Rita, for all of your hard work and dedication to ONT.
If you ask Emily White volunteers, she’ll tell you that she likes to be “part of a local solution.” Emily volunteers in the ONT office and organizes home grocery delivery bags every week. “It’s my favorite day of the week,” Emily says about her Wednesdays with ONT. She also helps with special projects like ONT’s Easter baskets, bags for homeless men and women, and food drive sorting. A mom of 4, Emily has brought her children to volunteer with her to teach them about giving back to their community (pictured here with her son).
Emily moved to Amesbury in 2006 and began teaching Italian with ONT’s neighbor, the Sparhawk School. She was involved with volunteer activities with ONT through the school, but always thought it would be nice to get more involved if she had extra time. Now a stay at home mother, Emily has carved some time out of her busy schedule to volunteer at ONT every Wednesday. Emily also volunteers in the library at the Amesbury Middle School where her middle son is a student. Emily brings a host of skills and experience to ONT, and will be our on-call Italian interpreter if the need ever arises. Emily says that she enjoyed the fulfillment of volunteering when she began last fall, but it has grown into something greater as she realized how special the Our Neighbors’ Table community is.
Want to join Emily as a volunteer? Fill out a volunteer application today!
Have you ever wondered how Our Neighbors’ Table gets all of its food? Well, a large part of it comes from the Greater Boston Food Bank located in South Boston. And thanks to Amesbury resident and ONT volunteer Mike Pollard, it arrives at our Market and into the shopping carts of our guests. Twice a week, Mike drives the ONT box truck down to Boston and brings it back to the Jardis-Taylor Center full of pallets of fresh produce, dairy, meat, and non-perishable items. Mike logs over 165 miles per week for ONT and we would be lost without him!
Mike has been volunteering for ONT for a long time—so long in fact, he can’t remember when he started! He thinks it’s been about four or five years. He began volunteering after he retired from his career as a self-employed chimney sweep. “I had a lot of time on my hands,” Mike said. “I liked the idea of driving. I was a little involved in social programs before but was frustrated not knowing if I was doing things effectively. Driving a truck is straight forward, and I know I’m doing it right.”
Mike is also a key piece of the Merrimac Mobile Market. He drives the truck full of fresh produce and wholesome food to the Merrimac Senior Center one Saturday a month. Mike has a valued volunteerism for much of his life. He served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in 1970 with New Hampshire Legal Services. When he’s not volunteering with ONT, Mike enjoys exercising, reading, spending time with his wife and finding the best baked goods to satisfy his sweet tooth.
When asked why he volunteers Mike says, “I like giving to the community. It makes me feel good and it’s satisfying. I like being reliable and I believe providing food to people is really important.”
Want to volunteer like Mike? Complete our volunteer application and we'll get you started!
Rose Sheehan volunteers primarily in the Our Neighbors’ Table office, though she says with a smile she will always help “wherever I’m needed.” Rose joined the ONT volunteer corps a few months ago after reading about ONT online and hearing good reviews from friends. Rose is 18 and currently taking a gap year after graduating from Pingree Academy. “I have a lot of free time right now,” said Rose, “I’m figuring myself out and am happy to have the opportunity to give back to my community.”
Rose’s first day volunteering with ONT left a lasting impression on her. She was helping in the market as a Customer Service Representative and one of the first guests to come in have her a big hug. After that she was hooked! Rose previously volunteered with the Food Project, working at farmers’ markets and social and food justice workshops, and is currently involved with the Newburyport Literary Festival. During her time volunteering in the ONT office, Rose has learned administrative skills and has gained insight into non-profit work which may inform her future career choices. We are grateful for Rose’s help at ONT!
William “Will” Mauch is a 20-year-old Amesbury resident who works behind the scenes restocking the Our Neighbors’ Table market. Will started volunteering with ONT when he was in high school, energetically lugging food up and down the stairs in our old basement food storage area, helping guests bring groceries to their cars, and greeting folks in the old pantry. About volunteering in the Jardis-Taylor center verses our old facility Will says, “There’s more space, easier to find things, it is very organized. I like the system of shopping with carts. It’s a nice building, I like it a lot.”
This fall, Will enters his sophomore year at Landmark College, studying Liberal Arts. Will first got involved with ONT through donating to food drives organized by his church, Saint James Episcopal Church in Amesbury. This summer Will has become a crucial part of ONT’s market support operations, stocking shelves and making sure the market is up to ONT’s high quality standard before it opens every Thursday. He even has contributed to our volunteer recruitment, he convinced his friend Brandon to work alongside him in the market this summer. Will and Brandon bring young energy and meticulous care to their time volunteering in the ONT market. Will generously shares a bit of his time and dynamism with ONT by volunteering. When asked why he volunteers he declares, “At first it was for volunteer hours, but now it is because I like helping people out. It feels good to help people who need it and to give back to the community.”