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Ninette Parente: Volunteer of the Month for June

Dawn Rafal | June 30, 2021

Born in Bari, Italy, Ninette Parente moved as a child to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she would spend the remainder of her youth. The daughter of a ship mechanic frequently at sea, Ninette was instilled with a sense of responsibility from a young age.

In 1965, Ninette moved to the United States, started a family, and embarked on a career as a businesswoman. For 19 years, she ran an Italian bakery in Ozone Park, Queens. “Every day, I would wake up at 5:00am and leave the bakery at midnight,” Ninette explains. “The only day we were closed was New Years Day,” she says. After selling the bakery, Ninette successfully ran a flower shop nearby for over nine years.

When Ninette’s son passed away several years ago, Ninette was looking for a way to fill her life with meaning, and it was then that she came across the Commonpoint Queens Forest Hills food pantry. “I saw a big line of people waiting,” Ninette says, “and when I figured out it was for a food pantry, I knew I wanted to play a part and volunteer.”

It was not long before Ninette started coming to the pantry five times a week–a routine she has kept up ever since. Ninette’s favorite part about volunteering is helping people and having the opportunity to apply her strong organizational skills. Often when leaving the pantry after long shifts, Ninette will bring food to deliver to her hungry and homebound neighbors, making sure to ask them what they need prior.

Asked what one message she would like to share with the world, Ninette says that “you should help people whenever you can. You will feel good in your heart and you will make the world a more beautiful place.”