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Volunteer Appreciation Week

From the Desk of Our CEO Danielle Ellman:

This week is Volunteer Appreciation Week. I can think of no better way to celebrate our amazing volunteers than to show you them in action. Enjoy our volunteer photo album with just some of our wonderful, amazing, dedicated, admirable, inspiring, committed, brilliant, awesome, beautiful, magnificent volunteers.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all our volunteers. From Conrad who helps at Sam’s Cafe every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, to John who handles the switchboard on Tuesdays; from Ralph who helps with just about everything, to Joan and Scott who love helping in our food pantry; from John who provides sound financial advice, to George who serves lunch to seniors and reads to nursery children; from Irene and Eric who deliver meals, to Marilyn, Marlene, Rayhana, Elvira, Lisa, and others who make face masks (300 and counting) that are donated to hospitals and first responders.  I can’t name each of our beloved volunteers but know that we treasure you all. Volunteers Make it Happen!

Marilyn Mask Making Selfie        Lisa Roberts mask makingMarilyn and Lisa making masks

On April 22 we delivered our 20,000th meal with help from New York City Council Member, Barry Grodenchik, and United States Congressman, Tom Suozzi! This milestone starkly highlights the enormous numbers of people affected by Coronavirus. But, big numbers can mask the human story. We know there are 20,000 very real people to go along with each of the meals delivered. One example is from a woman whose father has been receiving food packages from us for the past 5 weeks. “On behalf of my father, who will be 96 this month, I want to thank you for the wonderful meals you have sent. They are a godsend! We appreciate your kindness.” Rachel

     Irene and Eric Meal Delivery
Meal deliveries from Rep. Suozzi, Councilmember Grodenchik, and volunteers Irene & Eric

We can think of no better way to celebrate our volunteers than letting them speak for themselves what draws them to Commonpoint Queens. Here are some of their stories:


[accordion title=”Scott Zalis” state=”closed”]

“I began volunteering over a year ago after retiring from the MTA where I worked as an Occupational Safety & Environmental Compliance manager.  My reason for volunteering initially was, honestly, to fill time & keep busy ( I neeeed to keep busy).  I was fortunate to retire with a good pension & medical coverage.

 I began helping at Queens County Farm Museum & Alley Pond Environmental Center.  Both have been incredibly satisfying experiences & really opened up a world I didn’t know existed.  I had no idea it would be so rewarding-the staff at both places are special & always expressed thanks for any help they got.  We sometimes received the same from the visitors.

 I started at the Samuel Field Center (Sam’s Café) last fall.  Serving & feeding seniors has been interesting, funny (there are some comedians among the people we serve) & very rewarding.  I even enjoy the occasional chaos in the kitchen.  I often received thanks from people we were serving or assisting in some small way (cleaning a spill, helping with a wheelchair, getting extra napkins, etc.).  It made me feel good each time.

 Working now at the Commonpoint Queens Food Pantry in Forest Hills has multiplied many times over the rewarding experience I’ve found volunteering to be.  Every day I receive many thanks or a  “god bless you”.

I’ve also seen the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has been on family & friends of the people we are supplying with food.  Last week I was handing out a food parcel to a young lady when she suddenly burst out in tears.  She said she had just lost her grandfather to the virus the night before.  What do you say to someone feeling this pain? 

 I realize working in a job & making money is a necessity for all of us.  Volunteering has  opened my eyes & taught me that giving back to people in need can be much more gratifying than any job and is meaningful because you’re helping those who really need it. 

 I look forward to volunteering every day I can now 

 Scott Zalis


[accordion title=”Joan Borovoy” state=”closed”]

“When I retired from my job of 41 years and I wanted to start volunteering I reached out to Commonpoint Queens because I was interested in programs that help people in need.

A Time For Us is a program for young adults with disabilities to spend an afternoon socializing. Sam’s Café provides seniors a healthy lunch. The clientele who come to the Food Pantry are in need of food for their families.

Each volunteer activity is unique and rewarding. The common thread is that the activities allow me to help people in need and that is immensely gratifying. I believe it is important to give back. I have been fortunate to have the resources that helped me navigate some difficult journeys in life and having the opportunity to help others when they are experiencing challenges is my privilege. Everyone deserves that extra help when times are tough.”

 Joan Borovoy




“I volunteer because; I have the opportunity to return all the goodness and hope that was given to me.” John Mestres


If you are a volunteer who would like to share your story, please email AGaffney@CommonpointQueens.org.

To find a volunteer opportunity, visit https://www.commonpointqueens.org/volunteer/.