Catching the Spirit of Volunteerism from Those Before Us

My brother and I were walking home from work one day, just passing St. Andrew’s Church at the end of Prospect Street when we saw them. A group of cigar-chomping bearded bikers covered in tattoos and wearing do-rags. I wondered what they were doing there at St. Andrew’s.

Then we noticed a large shipping truck being unloaded. Among the group unloading the truck was Mrs. Schumacher, my English teacher at Brewster High School. Upon seeing us, she beckoned us over. We greeted her and asked what was going on. She explained that on the first Thursday of every month, a food truck from Albany is sent to restock the church’s food pantry so that it can continue to provide food to the local families who were struggling.

Sue Burcroff, the head of a serving staff of 45, runs this non-profit food pantry and moves approximately 6,000 pounds of food a month to feed the 40 families who depend on the pantry. This non-profit saw a double-digit increase in clients in 2016 alone, significantly increasing the group’s workload.

As of late, a biker group known as the New York Riders, founded by Cliff and Judy Fitzgerald, have participated in the unloading and storing of food within the church’s pantry. But more help was needed. Mrs.Schumacher half guilt-tripped and half genuinely persuaded my brother and me to stay and assist the Riders and a small group of church parishioners who were unloading the truck. It was hard work.

Jump forward three months. An organized group of seven guys leave school in the middle of the day to head over to St. Andrew’s, continuing to work alongside the group of parishioners: older people from a generation who get that service is what this whole experience is really about.

That first Thursday made me realize that we, the younger generation, have a responsibility that includes growing up and carrying the torch of volunteering, just as those before us once did. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Will Banks, Nick Carinha, Joe Castellano, Erik Jacobsen, Fernando Mora, and Eric Waclawski, we’ve been able to serve our community in ways that we hope will be contagious to our age group.