I’ve lived in the Roxborough/Manayunk area for most of my life. I even graduated from Roxborough High School! My son and his friends used to come to North Light to hang out and play basketball. It is a true community center.
I began volunteering at North Light about 5 years ago. I had come into talk to Theresa, the Office Manager, about something and saw how much work they were doing and offered to help. Steve, the manager of the food pantry at the time, asked me to come in to help with the books at first. As I worked with Steve and started learning more about the cupboard, he asked me to help with the deliveries of food. One day, it got so busy that he told me to handle the distribution. I’ve been here ever since!
While the food pantry is only open on Mondays and Fridays for a few hours, there’s so much work that goes on behind the scenes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the food pantry has had to adapt some of our work to accommodate social distancing. While we operated as a shopping model in the past, we are pre-bagging food for pick-up and giving out pre-ordered boxes of canned goods to people. We also began a delivery service for people who are unable to come to the facility, so we pack up food for 32 people and our delivery drivers come to take it to the people who need it. It’s a lot of work, but we manage to get it done. We try to get everything done as soon as possible because we know that sometimes this is the only food people will have in their house. I don’t want them to wait longer than they have to. No one should be worried about what they’re going to eat.
While our participants mainly come for the food, I know a lot of them also look forward to the social interaction. You can tell when someone is just excited to have the chance to laugh and joke with people, especially since we’re all spending so much time at home right now. I love getting to know the clients and learning more about them. It helps us personalize our work. If we know someone has children at home, we try to throw in some things we know they’ll like. Everyone deserves a treat!
I know what it’s like to go to bed hungry at night. Someone helped me then, and I’m helping people now. Paying it forward is my motivation for my work at North Light. If we aren’t there for them, who will be?
Our food pantry is open Monday and Friday afternoons. If you, or someone you know, is in need of food assistance, contact Shontell at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to volunteer with our food pantry, contact Renee at email@example.com. Volunteer opportunities are available on Mondays and Fridays.