Kevin R Chaves
I had learned about the Gerald J Ryan Outreach Center food pantry, in Wyandanch, NY, that had been destroyed by fire and jumped into action by contacting the director in December 2010 inquiring how he could help. I set out to help reconstruct the outreach center food pantry which provides assistance in meeting the emergency needs on average of 100 individuals/week from its surrounding communities. My project involved designing and drawing plans to construct 365 sq of shelving space. I then solicited for material donations in net worth of $680 during April and May and organized its construction using 9 scout volunteers during June. I started a facebook cause "Have-A-Heart-Help-Stop-Hunger" to reach out to family and friends. And found a sponsor to help me create a magnet ribbon to sell as a fundraiser "Funds for Food". I organized food drives with several volunteers throughout supermarkets, fitness gyms, corporate companies, and community groups; advertised in newspapers, on-line news media, and church bulletins. I also held a car wash which brought more awareness about the need to rebuild this center. After the word was out, during the summer months, I visited businesses asking them for their support to help rebuild the center by purchasing a magnet ribbon for a $25 donation which would equal one bag of groceries for a needy family. By brainstorming "out of the box" ideas such as bike rallies and cash cards for food and shared the stories I had heard about families' tribulations I successfully Raised $9,000 and 4,000 lbs of food. The experience made me aware of the poverty right here in American suburbia. It touched me deeply when I learned about the individuals that once had everything and now find they are homeless and not able to feed their families due to unemployment or a debilitating illness. I learned compassion and connected to the members of my local communities to help me rebuild the pantry. My efforts also will continue to make a difference.