Posted by Shafi Syed
Having been with Rotary of Saratoga for the last few years, the prospect of new service opportunities, as well as the capacity to participate in them now, excites me to an immeasurable degree. To work alongside a diverse and resilient group of individuals, in creating change within the community, provides me with a sense of fulfillment and happiness. It is truly an amazing feeling to have, one that always makes me smile.
Recently, I was intrigued by a request that Cathie Thermond had made, calling for volunteers to help West Valley Community Services with their mobile pantry, helping to deliver essentials for families in need. Ever since the lockdown went into effect early last year, I have thought about helping my community during times of turmoil and hardship, wondering what I could do to help. So, when I heard about this opportunity, I was overjoyed, as it was a chance for me to participate in a noble endeavor to provide aid to those in need. I signed up for all 12 slots our Rotary chapter was participating in and prepared myself for
the journey I was about to embark on. When I told my wife about it, she readily joined to help out.
During the first three weeks, my fellow volunteers and I were responsible for delivering packed bags of groceries. These included fruits, vegetables, bread, rice, canned food, eggs, milk, and meat. After the packages were consolidated and ready for pickup, we delivered them to 84 families at their residences.
The fourth week, West Valley Community Services decided to make use of a new modality of delivering food to families in need, one that made the whole experience engaging and fun for all the families that participated in it. This involved bringing in a food truck to their doorstep and offering them a complete shopping experience, giving them the agency to pick what they needed, as opposed to giving them pre-made packages which may not have been suited to their specific circumstances.
All the family needed to do was come up to the food truck and pick out the groceries that suited them. It was a heartwarming sight, to see the joy as each family came up to the food truck, and to see the smile in their eyes. That is something I will never forget. With face masks covering their faces, it was difficult to see the smile on their faces, but you could see it in their eyes. I urge our fellow Rotarians to share this experience and volunteer to help these families in their times of need, provide them with fun and personal shopping experiences, all brought to the vicinity of their homes by West Valley Community Services and assisted by Saratoga Rotary, and help put a smile on their face.