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Volunteer Profile: Anna Perris-Rigoutsos & Franklin Rigoutsos
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Volunteer Profile: Anna Perris-Rigoutsos & Franklin Rigoutsos
Volunteer Profile: Anna Perris Rigoutsos & Franklin Rigoutsos Anna and Franklin are a mother-and-son volunteer duo who have served with Food Bank For New York City since 2019. Together they have served more than 100 hours. Why is Food Bank’s mission important to you? A: I support Food Bank’s mission because access to food is a basic need that I believe should be available to all New Yorkers. F: I read the memoir, Free Lunch, where the author discusses his experiences as a food-insecure kid. It made me understand the importance of eliminating food insecurity. What was your most memorable moment while serving with Food Bank? F: During pantry distribution, I was able to translate, answer questions, and communicate in Spanish. It was rewarding to use what I learned in school to be able to help others. Tell us about a meal that is special to you and your family. A: A favorite meal for both of us is Thanksgiving dinner. My mother is an amazing cook and prepares a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, and sweet potatoes. It is a meal we look forward to all year and we are so thankful for the work she does to prepare it for us. Who inspires you to serve? A: I’m inspired to serve by Franklin. As a parent, I want to teach Franklin to be involved in and contribute to our community. The best way I can do this is by my example. F: During pantry distribution, people are so appreciative that it inspires me to keep showing up to serve my community.
Volunteer Profile: Eleanor Haskin
Volunteer Profile: Eleanor Haskin Eleanor Haskin is a volunteer at our Community Kitchen & Food Pantry who has served more than six hours of service, with hopes for returning as much as her schedule allows. Why is Food Bank’s mission important to you? I’ve always appreciated that Food Bank’s mission extends beyond food distribution and focuses on maintaining dignity and sustaining the community with things like tax help and the senior center. What was your most memorable moment while serving with Food Bank? Not a specific memory, but my sister is the Volunteer Engagement Coordinator at the Community Kitchen & Food Pantry, so I visit her there. It feels like a real community— I love coming back and seeing familiar faces and catching up with the staff and clients. I feel like I know people there now and they know me. Tell us about a meal that is special to you and your family. I went vegan as a teenager, and it’s been special to rediscover meals from childhood made with new ingredients. My mom used to make spaghetti Bolognese a lot. I started making it with walnuts and mushrooms as “meat.” My mom was skeptical at first, but she loves it now and it’s become a staple. Who inspires you to serve? My fellow New Yorkers!
Volunteer Profile: Javier Gonzalez
Volunteer Profile: Javier Gonzalez Javier Gonzalez is an avid Food Bank supporter and volunteer who has served more than 70 hours at our Community Kitchen & Food Pantry in West Harlem, providing pantry bags to our clients with compassion and excitement. Why is Food Bank’s mission important to you? I love that Food Bank offers more than just food to the community. It offers a range of tools and services that empower clients to thrive and overcome hunger. I love seeing this work in action. What was your most memorable moment while serving with Food Bank? During my first shift at the Community Kitchen & Food Pantry, I met so many clients: one had cool personal style, another one's funny jokes cracked me up, yet another showed off award-worthy dance moves. But what stuck with me were the countless clients offering their heartfelt gratitude for Food Bank’s generosity. Tell us about a meal that is special to you and your family. Whenever I visit my parents, my dad makes café con leche con tostadas for breakfast: a piping hot mug of frothed, steamed milk with traditional Cuban coffee and buttered Cuban bread. Having cafe con leche for breakfast reminds me of my grandmothers, who drank it daily. Who inspires you to serve? In the last few years, my priorities have shifted, and I've felt compelled to do meaningful work. I wanted to do more than donate to important causes. The pantry distribution shifts afford me the opportunity to connect with my community face-to-face and spend a few hours each week helping people.
Volunteer Profile: Paul Adamsbaum
Volunteer Profile: Paul Adamsbaum Paul Adamsbaum has served as a volunteer at our Community Kitchen & Food Pantry in West Harlem since 2017. Why is Food Bank’s mission important to you? "I grew up in the city and know that many of its citizens face challenges every day. Food Bank gives me the chance to help people overcome some of those challenges on a very personal level." What was your most memorable moment while serving with Food Bank? "Whether it was serving breakfast to seniors pre-COVID, or helping at the Grab-and-Go Pantry distributions, I was always warmed by how appreciative everyone I came in contact with was." Tell us about a meal that is special to you and your family. "For me and my wife, it's Sunday morning bagels and lox breakfast, while sitting in front of the TV watching CBS Sunday Morning and reading the Sunday New York Times." Who inspires you to serve? "My parents who, when I was growing up in Queens, instilled in me the value of helping others regardless of what rung of society's ladder we happen to occupy."
Volunteer Profile: Belinda Cheng
Volunteer Profile: Belinda Cheng Belinda Cheng has served as a volunteer since 2012. She most recently served with us as a VITA volunteer for the 2022 tax season. Why is Food Bank’s mission important to you? "I like that Food Bank’s mission has tangible, immediate impacts in our communities, whether it’s pantry distributions or helping clients file their taxes for free to secure much-needed refunds." What was your most memorable moment while serving with Food Bank? "I’ve served in many capacities with Food Bank over the years: the annual New York City Wine & Food Festival; repacking at the Warehouse in the Bronx; and, most recently, as a VITA volunteer tax preparer. I like the in-person interactions with clients, and my fellow volunteers." Tell us about a meal that is special to you and your family. "Lunar New Year meals are always a special time for family reunions and tasty food!" Who inspires you to serve? "I am inspired by the joy, gratefulness, and smiles on the clients' faces. If you have the ability to serve, you should! "
Volunteer Profile: Devin Yang
Volunteer Profile: Devin Yang Devin Yang joined Food Bank as a volunteer for our 2022 VITA season, serving both in-person and virtually. In total, Devin was able to prepare tax returns for more than 60 clients, totaling just over $125,000 in refunds! Why is Food Bank’s mission important to you? "I wanted to give back to my community and fight food poverty using my knowledge as a rising accountant. Food Bank’s mission is important to me because it aligns exactly with that, the prevention of food poverty with the organization of food and knowledge." What was your most memorable moment while serving with Food Bank? "When I was waiting for my train at 116th St, I met a client who thanked me for doing their tax return, and how much it meant for them that I did their tax return correctly and professionally. It really showed me that what we did mattered, and that we changed someone’s life for the better." Tell us about a meal that is special to you and your family. "Spring rolls are a very special meal to me. We always have them on special occasions, and they’re both delicious and easy to make!" Who inspires you to serve? "My family inspires me to serve. I heard my parents’ stories of their hardships when growing up, one of which was their sacrifice of education as kids so they could get food for the next day. I wanted to prevent situations like this from happening ever since, which is why I volunteer when I can."
Volunteer Profile: Anna Lynn Oppenheimer
Volunteer Profile: Anna Lynn Oppenheimer Anna Lynn (pictured center) started volunteering with Food Bank in March 2022 and has since become a regular volunteer at our Community Kitchen & Pantry, serving over 20 hours! Why is Food Bank’s mission important to you? "I am passionate about ending hunger in New York City. I strongly believe that access to healthy food is a fundamental human right and I admire the innovative ways that Food Bank works to provide New Yorkers with access to food and other important services and resources to help alleviate poverty." What was your most memorable moment while serving with Food Bank? "I was fortunate to be a volunteer the first day that the Community Kitchen was able to welcome volunteers again. It was inspiring to see Food Bank in action helping New Yorkers and also to meet the dedicated staff who had been courageously working on the front lines throughout the pandemic." Tell us about a meal that is special to you and your family. "I have been in New York for nearly 30 years, but as a Louisiana native, I love cooking, eating, and sharing a big pot of gumbo with family and friends. We even named our puppy “Gumbo,” in honor of our favorite meal. " Who inspires you to serve? "I am inspired by my fellow New Yorkers, those who are in need of some sort of assistance and those who are able to lend a hand to help others. We are fortunate to live together in this amazing, if complex, city and anything we can do to lift one another up benefits us all."
Volunteer Profile: Lee Brown
Volunteer Profile: Lee Brown Lee Brown (pictured left) is a longtime Food Bank volunteer and has served over 1,000 hours with us. Lee is a familiar face at our Community Kitchen & Food Pantry and we were thrilled to recently welcome him back to in-person volunteering after a two-year pause! Why is Food Bank’s mission important to you? "Food Bank helps a lot of people in the community that are going through hard times. Sometimes it's not just food, but other things like helping enroll in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). They also have programming for seniors as well." What was your most memorable moment while serving with Food Bank? "When the NFL players from the New York Jets and Giants came to the Community Kitchen to give out turkeys and hams to the community. " Tell us about a meal that is special to you and your family. "The Thanksgiving meal or the holiday when they have a special guest." Who inspires you to serve? "The staff here are great and, no matter what, always have smiles on their faces. That’s what inspires me to serve."
Volunteer Profile: Sheryl McFadden
Volunteer Profile: Sheryl McFadden Sheryl McFadden is serving with Food Bank as a NYC Civic Corps Member from September 2021-July 2022. Why is Food Bank’s mission important to you? “Food Bank's mission is important to me because everyone deserves essential needs. Food Bank taking on that mission and helping to feed the city makes all the difference and shows how united we can be.” What was your most memorable moment while serving with Food Bank? “The most memorable moment while serving with Food Bank was the Thanksgiving Turkey pop-up distribution in Brooklyn. It was amazing to give away whole turkeys to the community and watch how it brightened their spirits.” Tell us about a meal that is special to you and your family. “Not a meal, but every year our Christmas tradition is to make my mom's famous banana pudding. It is extra special to me because of all the memories I have in the kitchen with my siblings helping mom. Food really does bring people together.” Who inspires you to serve? “Serving others has always been a love of mine, and I believe that worrying about the happiness and humanity of others (not just yourself) is so important to living a full life. My Grandmother taught me that and I never forgot it!”
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