15 years ago, Kathy Purdy found out that her grandmother was feeding some of the seniors in her neighborhood that weren't able to provide for themselves. In response, Ms. Purdy made arrangements to alleviate her grandmother's financial and personal burden by working through several local food pantries with these seniors. As things progressed, a few turned into many and that initial goodwill has turned into an organization that coordinates 350 volunteers and feeds 1700 Westchester families. "It's my calling" she says, of Hillside Food Outreach in Thornwood but providing food to the hungry can be a lot more complicated thanmeeting recommended daily allowances and checking in on calorie counts.
Many of the needy that fall within Hillside's domain require special diets that don't usually come under the umbrella of the of foods that are typically donated. For instance, diabetes requires a very specific diet that comes with a cost that complicates what Hillside is trying to do. "It makes things very expensive," she says, as food banks cannot accommodate clients in this regard and supplements must be purchased directly from the supermarket.
Similarly, Hillside reaches a base of mostly seniors and those requirements can be just as demanding. Additionally, Hillside Outreach does what they can to address the needs of low-income families and the incidence of childhood obesity. Again, with most donated foods being of less nutritional value like white rice or white pasta, Hillside spends more when possible in hopes that the healthy food they can provide consummates a long-term change. We want to introduce children to a healthier life pattern, she says.
Back at the other end of the life cycle, Hunger isn't the only issue thatHillside aspires to augment with the many seniors in their care. Whether it's isolation, loneliness or outright fear, she says, many of the seniors look forward to the visits from the volunteers more than the much needed food. In turn, the friendship that ensues enables the volunteers to get seniors to open up - thus allowing Hillside to refer them to the various agencies for assistance.
On a larger scale, Entergy is a significant contributor, as is former New York Yankee Bernie Williams with both his time and money generated from memorabilia donations. "Bernie is a member of our organization and also a spokesperson," she says.
On the other hand, most volunteers associated with Hillside are not Bernie Williams but getting back as much as is given has nothing to do with the present or previous address of their day jobs. "It gives you a quality of life that you just can't buy," she says.
Of course, in any situation of giving and receiving, a receiver confronted with personal pride may choose to defer - especially in the case of someone who's been self sufficient their whole lives. In so much, Hillside's volunteers are always sensitive to whatever the situation, but if pride does hold them up, Ms. Purdy needs them to know that are not alone. "People do care and do want to help," she says, and they should not give up hope."
For more info : www.hillsidefoodoutreach.org