DEAR SUN SPOTS: We at St. Mary’s Nutrition Center would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to our volunteers, longstanding and new, who helped and continue to help in crucial ways during this unusual time, specifically in our Food Pantry and the Community Garden.

These last several months have marked the engagement of many volunteers in a completely new way through their contributions to the deliveries arm of the Food Pantry. This new program distributes food to people who face barriers to visiting the pantry in-person and was developed last spring in response to COVID-19. We have built a pool of dedicated volunteer drivers to make deliveries and have launched a weekly newsletter with program highlights, announcements, and a link for drivers to sign up for shifts based on their availability. The Nutrition Center distributes around 400 meals per week. Over 9,250 bags of food were delivered to the community in 2020.

While COVID-19 prevented the Community Garden team from hosting its usual number of volunteer groups this year, there was still support from individuals and a few small volunteer groups that gave time to help the gardens prosper this year. In the spring, Healthy Androscoggin contributed staff time to assist potting up seedlings for distribution to gardeners. Volunteers from Raise-Op Housing Cooperative and Hillview helped give nearby gardens additional care and water during the dry spells.

During this unusual season, the Community Garden team was especially thankful for longtime volunteers and supporters who stepped in as garden guides and provided extra help wherever needed, whether it be repairing a hose reel or installing a garden sign.

During the fall, Opportunity Enterprises helped the team clean out garden plots and prepare a raised bed for planting next year. This connection was facilitated by a former youth gardener and intern, Abdi, who now works with the organization, and who recommended that they visit the Nutrition Center.

ANSWER: The Nutrition Center is a happening place that gives so much to the community not just by feeding people but by educating them in regards to nutrition, gardening, cooking and sharing their newfound skills with others. I hope anyone in the community who is able will join in this effort and that the center will continue to prosper and grow through the coming year. This organization is such a prime example of what a group of like-minded people can do by all pulling together for a common goal, even in the face of the pandemic.

Remember, if you are involved with a nonprofit and have a need for volunteers, donations, or have a fundraiser on the horizon, write to Sun Spots with the information and I will get the word out, as will everyone who follows along every day in Sun Spots Land.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name. We won’t use it if you ask us not to. Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailedto [email protected].


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