NYSARC Gives Back: Ulster-Greene ARC Volunteerism for NYSARC Gives Back President’s Project

“Many Ulster-Greene ARC individuals have been involved in helping their communities for years. We find that the volunteer experience itself affords a fresh perspective on individuals’ situations, defining them as capable of helping someone else. In honor of  the NYSARC Gives Back President’s Project, some of our residences and Day Habs were also inspired and took on the challenge in a wide range of altruistic activities.

Bringing Food “Over the Mountain”

Long-time volunteer Gerard Minn from Ellenville Day Hab stocks the food pantry at FAMILY of Ellenville.

Long-time volunteer Gerard Minn from Ellenville Day Hab stocks the food pantry at FAMILY of Ellenville.

Ulster-Greene ARC Ellenville Day Hab staff and individuals have provided assistance to FAMILY of Ellenville’s food pantry every month without fail since 2000! For twelve years now, our Ellenville Day Hab has coordinated the pick-up of FAMILY’s monthly order from the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York order in Latham, NY, delivering it “over the mountain.” Two or three individuals out of six “regulars” assist with the large delivery. In a related project, individual Gerard Minn has also been volunteering on a weekly basis at FAMILY, breaking down and measuring caseloads of bulk rice, macaroni, etc.f and filling quart-sized bags with gloved hands.  Since the economic crisis hit, food requests have grown steadily, which has meant more work for the volunteers. Says FAMILY of Ellenville Director Lisa Cavanaugh, “The help we receive from Ulster-Greene ARC to provide emergency food to community members in need is a shining example of community members helping each other. We especially wish to acknowledge Day Services Manager Peter Campbell. It was his idea more than a decade ago to assist us with the food orders, and he and his staff and consumers have been faithfully meeting the truck every month since then. Most recently, in one of the big storms, Peter drove over the mountain from his home to get the van and then drove to Monticello and picked up a large order for us. We were awestruck by his sense of responsibility, and his dedication is an acknowledgement of our work and an inspiration to us.”

Working with the “Angels”

Ulster-Greene ARC Wall Street Day Hab has been volunteering for the last four years with Angel Food East, a non-profit organization providing daily hot meals to home-bound people living with HIV and AIDS in Ulster County. Individuals volunteer on a rotating schedule of four days per week that allows everyone to take part, and they look forward to the opportunity to interact with fellow members of their community. When asked why they wanted to participate, some mentioned “helping others,” the chance to “meet new people,” and the bonus of “a lot of fun!” The almost-daily excursions enable them to see other parts of the county, but what’s most significant is how their long-term service to their community enables them to see themselves.

Providing for “4 Paws”

Ulster-Greene ARC Pecora Center Day Hab has been working with the Town of Saugerties Animal Shelter for one year now, collecting a variety of pet food for the shelter’s “4 Paws Pantry.” In April of 2011, the Kingston, NY ShopRite allowed the agency to place a collection box inside of the store’s exit, and Day Hab individuals keep watch on the growing donations. Once a month, they bring donated goods to the shelter and help the staff to put them away. While there, participants also take time to hold and play with the cats. Shelter Director Marie Post regularly sends them thank-you cards and refers to them as her “angels.”

Bringing Books to Children

In Kingston, NY, Ulster-Greene ARC individual Tim Russell has been a long-term volunteer for The Lisa Libraries, a non-profit organization which donates new books to organizations working with children in poor and under-served areas. Tim does data entry and stocks books for the organization, which supplements under-filled shelves as well as provides books to many children who may never have owned a book before. “I love going to work,” says Tim, “and helping children to get books that they can’t get themselves.” Tim helps out two half-days each week for the local program, part of the national project which, since 1990, has contributed over 350,000 books to nonprofit organizations.

Celebrating Spring with Seniors

Ulster-Greene ARC individuals from our ARC Apartments decided to commemorate “NYSARC Gives Back” Week by creating spring decorations for The Family Lodge Senior Residence in Saugerties, NY. Eight individuals wanted to do something special for the seniors living at The Family Lodge because their van often drove by it and one individual asked who lived in “that nice house.” Because of their interest, Ulster-Greene ARC staff contacted the residence and arranged for a get-together. As individuals created spring table décor to their new “old” friends and got to know each other!”