Listen to the Director of our Black Rock Food Distribution Hub share her heart for feeding Germantown families. Don’t miss her big ‘thank you’ at the end for all you volunteers – it’s the best part!! Transcript follows:
GGC: This is Norm Gordon with Germantown Global Connection and I’m here with Grace Rivera-Oven who is the Director of the Hub here at the Black Rock Food Distribution. So Grace, what was your inspiration for starting this hub?
Rivera-Oven: My inspiration was desperation. I was seeing the huge need especially in the trailer park. My sons and I have been volunteering there for a long time and just doing advocacy for the community for a while. So I know that when COVID was just hitting in early March, we started getting calls from families, saying, “My husband just got laid off,” “my brother doesn’t have a job,” “I don’t have a job,” and we kind of knew that there was a wave of need coming our way. So we decided to ask the wonderful people like Lynn Arndt, the Executive Director here, to help. We had a donation of palettes. I didn’t know the lingo of food and I didn’t really know what a palette was so she said she had ten palettes and I said, “oh sure I’ll put those in a garage,” and she said, “no, you need a little bigger than a garage,” so that’s when Black Rock came to our calling and ever since we’ve been here. We started with about 23 families and I think next week we’re going to hit 1,000 families a week.
GGC: So what are some of the other issues the families who are recipients are facing?
Rivera-Oven: So many of them are getting COVID. There’s very little social distancing our families can do, especially the immigrant families. In a trailer home or even in apartments, when someone gets COVID usually the other family members and the children get COVID as well. So we see that. But we also see people who just got diagnosed with cancer, others who have just been diagnosed with diabetes, and we have folks who are handicapped. I have a couple of folks who are blind. Unfortunately, we have the family of the horrible accident on Muddy Branch and the survivors of that accident. They were already a family we were helping. In fact, they had just said, “we don’t need your help anymore because my husband is going back to work” and then they were involved in that horrible accident and now we’re back and helping them as well. So it’s not just COVID but it’s that many of them haven’t got their jobs back.
GGC: Last question, what would you like to say to the volunteers?
Rivera-Oven: Oh, you guys are amazing! I just adore all of you. I wish I could remember everyone’s name – I’m terrible with names! – but I just want to say thank you so much because the families truly appreciate you. They call us and they say, we are so blessed to have this help and we are so thankful. Please tell your wonderful volunteers that they always come with a good attitude and they make us happy and you know I think it’s all about helping each other and helping our neighbors. I know COVID brought us to our knees in a sense but it has always brought out some of the best in people. I think we have lost a little bit of the sense of knowing our neighbors and I think this has brought that back and I just want to say thank you so much from Marco, from Christian, and the whole team here at the hub. God bless you and thank you for supporting us.
GGC: Thank you, Grace!