A few years ago, I started a Groundhog Day tradition at Punchbowl. We’ve always made February 2nd a company holiday (yes, it’s my favorite reason to celebrate), and in the last few years I’ve arranged for an optional volunteer day for our employees.
We’ve had a few Groundhog volunteer days in the past couple of years that were memorable. In 2010, we painted a women’s shelter, and in 2011 we helped start a thrift store at a local service council. For all of our employees, it’s been a great experience to take some time off to do some local community service. Even though it’s a short amount of time, I’ve found that the experience has stayed with me even months later.
This year on Groundhog Day we volunteered at a local food pantry called “A Place to Turn.” Their website describes the organization: A Place to Turn is committed to providing emergency food and clothing to our neighbors in the Metrowest community. We will serve those in need in an atmosphere of caring and mutual respect.
We arrived on Thursday, February 2nd at the food pantry in Natick with a team of 12 people from Punchbowl, and were met by Joanne Barry, the Executive Director. Joanne did a fantastic job of describing the organization to our team, and provided us with great perspective about how they help local families everyday. She emphasized with us how the need has grown during this tough economy. I was very impressed at the lengths they take to help the families maintain their dignity even as they are asking for help with food and clothing.
Our volunteer project was to paint several rooms inside the food pantry, including the front donation room, the kitchen, and the upstairs. We split up into three teams and got to work. The team on the front room moved everything out so that we could paint the whole room, the kitchen team performed acrobatics on top and around the refrigerators, and the team upstairs tackled the big shelves and closets. About four hours later, we had transformed each of the rooms with a fresh coat of paint.
Although it was only a small volunteer project, you could immediately see the impact that we made on this food pantry. It’s now been a few weeks since our painting project, and I think often about what I can do to help even more.