January 13, 2009

GLWD to Deliver its 10,000,000th Meal

Last Fall, I volunteered at a disorganized event for a nonprofit. I was griping to one of the other volunteers and she told me about a nonprofit that she works with that runs like a well-oiled machine: God's Love We Deliver (GLWD).

I looked into the organization and learned that they deliver handmade, nutritious meals to people in New York City and Hudson County, NJ who are home bound due to serious illnesses like cancer, MS, and HIV/AIDS. I love to cook and figured that this might be a match, so I went to an orientation last week. I left after the hour session with more energy than I've had in weeks.

In 1985, Ganga Stone was volunteering at a hospice and she brought ingredients for a meal to one of her clients who had HIV / AIDS. Unfortunately, he was too ill to prepare even the simplest of meals. Seeing this desperate need in her community, she joined forces with Jane Best and Restaurant Claire to form GLWD in 1986. Restaurant Claire prepared meals that Ganga and volunteers delivered to people living with HIV/AIDS in Manhattan. They started delivering about 50 meals per week, mostly by bicycle. One year later, they expanded and set up shop in West Park Presbyterian Church on the Upper West Side. By that point they delivered 50 meals per day.

Today, God's Love We Deliver is a modern day success story in the social change world that inspires all of us to seek out and create positive change in our communities. They have an 80-person full-time staff, a French-trained culinary team, a fleet of delivery vans, and 1,800 volunteers who give 7,000 hours of service per month. On staff, there is a dietary/nutrition department and they provide nutrition counseling tailored to each individual. This entire GLWD crew cooks, laughs, and plays together, and that joy and care comes through in the taste of the food. They are saving lives, literally.

What could we ever do that would be more hopeful? And what's even more impressive, they think about the whole person. On Thanksgiving and Christmas each client is given an extra meal so they can invite a friend to spend the holiday with them. They receive special baskets on Thanksgiving with sparkling cider, cheese, nuts, and candies. They receive a blackout box and a blizzard box each year that has nonperishable items so they can get by for a few days if for some reason GLWD can't deliver to them. Each client receives a birthday cake on their birthday along with a card made by a local school child.

The compassion and care of the organization is incredible. One of the volunteers has an incredible story that he shares: He was wearing his GLWD jacket as he did his errands about town. Someone grabbed his elbow and spun him around. With extreme gratefulness in her eyes she said to him, "You saved my life. I would have starved to death without the food you made for me. Thank you!" Ganga and her team have accomplished and will continue to accomplish what they set out to do - they make a difference.

This spring, God's Love We Deliver will deliver its 10,000,000th meal. There are all kinds of opportunities available from meal delivery, to baking, to packing, to prep, to office work. The shifts are available from 6:30am - 9pm every week day with some opportunities on Saturdays and Sundays as well. If you live in the New York City area, I hope you'll join me in creating social change through GLWD!

"This post was written by Christa Avampato, a product developer in the financial services industry. In the future, she would like to parlay her product and service development experience into the world of social entrepreneurship. She is a volunteer blogger with the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project and publishes her own blog on creativity at http://www.christainnewyork.blogspot.com . Please leave your comments or email christa.avampato@gmail.com with your questions."

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