My good friend McKenzie recently wrote about her experience volunteering at God’s Love We Deliver, an organization you’ve read about before on Give and Get NYC. Her time spent there is more unique, however, because of her culinary background and weekly commitment to working in the God’s Love kitchen. She was awesome enough to let me share her story here…
Why I Chop: A Love Letter to God’s Love We Deliver
By McKenzie Mahoney
I vividly remember the first day I walked into God’s Love We Deliver after a seriously lengthy hiatus; I was apprehensive to entering the doors, nervous and embarrassed that I had not been in so long. My excuses were baseless and kind of ridiculous; after culinary school I got busy, work got in the way, my social life got in the way, etc etc. I kept putting off the inevitable realization that surely I could carve out a set time each week to volunteer right? Yet it wasn’t until I heard about their “World’s Largest Potluck” this past spring that I finally took some action.
With support from friends, I set up a potluck to raise money for GLWD and was surprised to receive correspondence from the office directly asking if there was anything I needed, etc. Thanks to my loving friends, family and neighbors….we raised over $300 for GLWD. It was then that I realized there were no excuses; I had to get back in the kitchen!
For those of you not familiar with Gods Love We Deliver, a quick primer….
It all began with one woman, Ganga Stone, a hospice volunteer who began preparing and delivering meals for Richard Sayles, a patient she met who was living with AIDS and did not have the ability to cook for himself. Rain or shine, she would deliver food to Mr. Sayles, and soon enough a snowball effect took hold as it went from one man to thousands of men, women and children. While GLWD has no religious affiliation, the organization received its name after a minister inquired what Ganga was doing and he replied that she was, “not just delivering food, but delivering God’s love.”
Since 1985 their mission has been clear: improve the health and well-being of men, women and children living with serious illnesses (HIV/AIDS, Cancers) by preparing and delivering nutritious and high quality meals to those who are unable to do so themselves. Understanding the need for more than just nutritious meals, GLWD offers nutrition education, counseling, and many other services. It’s an incredibly impressive operation, GLWD serves nearly one million meals a year, provided free of charge, no matter what your income may be.
Now back to getting in the kitchen…
Not more than five minutes after breezing through the Geffen building (on 6th Ave and Spring Street where GLWD was headquartered), was I back in the fold! Emily (the volunteer coordinator who has quickly become a dear friend) welcomed me with open arms and immediately got me set up with a quick re-introduction, a food safety seminar, and a few waiver forms.
As soon as the elevator doors opened to the basement kitchen and I wrapped the apron around my waist, I recognized how much I really missed this place. The people you meet, the conversations you have while working, the connections you make are literally indescribable. A melting pot of New Yorkers working together to improve the lives of fellow New Yorkers, its inspiring.
I am sure everyone says their crew is best, but I truly feel the people who work Mondays are a special bunch (in addition to those who work on weekend evenings). Most people spend their Monday evenings getting back into the groove from the weekend and prepare for their work week. The people who choose Monday evenings throw out any exhaustion or errands and dive right in! I personally chose Mondays because it allows me to start the week ahead off right with a little dose of giving back!
As stated before, the people really make the place. Some of my favorites on Monday include Gerry, the most loving and supportive man I have ever met, his smile and enthusiasm for life brighten my Monday evenings; Andrew, Monday nights father figure who sat with me at the emergency room for 4 hours as the doctor stitched up my knife wound (an accident I admit was due to carelessness on my part as I may have been talking too much!); and last but not least….Rachel, who recently left us to start her freshman year of college but was my lifeline to what its like to be a teenager nowadays, I am eagerly awaiting her Thanksgiving arrival.
While there are many ways to help (be it driving the vans, delivering meals, packing the meals, labeling items, or answering phones), I choose to work in the kitchen chopping various vegetables for soups, side dishes, and entrees. With Karee (the Chef) at the helm, the Monday night crew rocks out to some old school R&B (or whatever tunes Karee wants to jam out to) and chops away at boxes and boxes of squash, carrots, leeks, mushrooms, and onions. We chop, laugh and chat oblivious to the ticking of the clock. The old saying is true, time flies when you are having fun because as soon as you walk in…you are on your way out!
I will sing the praises of Gods Love all over this world; it is a magical place where people selflessly donate their time, energy and money to helping others. Every night we hear how many meals are being delivered the next day and the figures always astound me…. 1800, 1600, you get the idea. I get chills thinking about the moment a GLWD volunteer knocks on a person’s door and hands them their meal; it must be such a joyous experience to see first hand the people you are helping. I have been floating the idea of staying in NYC for Christmas (much to my mothers disappointment), and if so will likely spend my Christmas Eve delivering meals around the city.
My love for GLWD knows no end; I look forward to celebrating many life moments downstairs in the kitchen. If you too are looking for ways to get involved in your community and are interested in GLWD, please visit the God’s Love We Deliver website at www.glwd.org, they are always looking for volunteers.
Continue to follow McKenzie’s foodie escapades and good will on her blog,