Thursday, June 26, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
I thought it might be fun to start off our series on the City Teens by profiling a previous participant of the program who has returned this summer to volunteer again with EECM. A great big Welcome Back to Eliza Hens-Greco, member of the 2005 City Teens.
Eliza, who just graduated this spring from Winchester Thurston School, spent the summer after her freshman year of high school participating in the City Teens Project. She was familiar with EECM through her church (First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, an EECM Member Congregation) which serves monthly meals at our Men’s Shelter. Eliza was looking for something fun to do over the summer and the City Teens Project fit the bill.
Working 3-4 days a week from 9am to 3:30pm, Eliza experienced the full scope of EECM’s Hunger Programs – she unloaded and sorted the huge daily donations of bread from local grocery stores, stuffed Food Pantry bags, served in the kitchen, and worked with visiting groups on projects like cleaning the Men’s Emergency Shelter.
But her favorite job was working the “Extras Room” at the Food Pantry. After clients received their two bags of household staples, Eliza would accompany them to the Extras Room that housed fresh produce, bread, and other miscellaneous food donations. She helped them select items they needed, chatting for about ten minutes in the process.
Eliza says, “I loved working in the Extras Room. All of the prep work – like bags and meal preparation – was fun because the staff and other volunteers were great, but in the Extras Room, I was able to have personal contact with the people we were serving and it was amazing. I got to hear their stories and get to know them. They had such beautiful stories and they were lovely and gracious people. I always looked forward most to working in the Extra’s Room and it was my interactions with clients there that stayed with me when I went home for the day.”
This fall, Eliza heads to Earlham College in Indiana. But she’ll be spending the next few weeks before the start of orientation volunteering once again with EECM. We’re glad to have her back!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Musically-questionable Christmas carol parodies aside, I am thrilled to announce the start of the 2008 City Teens Project. Let's hear it for teenagers who care!
Each year, East End Cooperative Ministry recruits a group of teenagers who are looking to do more with their summer than sleep, swim, and play video games. The City Teens commit to volunteering at least seven hours each week with EECM, usually working in our Hunger Programs. They perform "typical" volunteer duties like packing Food Pantry bags and helping prepare meals for the Soup Kitchen, but they also play a vital role in helping to organize and oversee the many groups that visit EECM over the summer.
During the summer months, we get regular shipments of youth groups and other community groups that come for a weekend or for week-long service projects, and the City Teens show the newcomers the ropes and help find good projects for them to work on. It's great -- the City Teens gain leadership experience while helping others and the visiting groups have a knowledgeable person guiding them.
Over the next days and weeks, we'll be featuring a number of our 2008 City Teens on the blog, from profiles about participants to posts written by the City Teens as they share their summer experiences. Stay tuned!
Friday, June 13, 2008
It seemed like the best way to bid farewell to a valuable staff member would be to share some thoughts from his fellow co-workers.
Kenny Wilmer, Bridge Housing Coordinator -- "I’ll miss him for the interconnections he had with outside agencies. Lester helped me to meet service workers from outside agencies."
Pam Jenkins, PennFree Coordinator -- "I believe that Lester focused more on others and their well-being rather than himself. He was empathetic, caring and really went above and beyond what was required of him as an employee. He was able to relate to the people that he served and he treated them with respect and encouraged them to learn to respect themselves and find a better way to live. He will be very difficult to replace, I really think that."
Bret Cogis, Emergency Homeless Services Supervisor -- "Lester was a tremendous help to the Shelter Guests. The amount of homeless resource information he possesses is amazing. His expertise in this area will be greatly missed."
And, perhaps the most touching of all -- the response of one of our homeless clients to the news that Lester was retiring: "Somebody should have called the press. They should do a story about him because he has served this community for so long and made such a difference."
Good luck, Lester! We'll miss you.