Vincentian Scholar Valerie Garcia-Batiz, a biology major from Williamsville, N.Y., has been a volunteer at Heart, Love and Soul for about three years. Although the coronavirus has changed the way the food pantry and dining room serves its guests, Garcia-Batiz is still a vital part of the team that serves those in need.
“Beforehand, I would do a variety of jobs wherever they needed me: serving breakfast, working the necessary store, data entry, helping take guest around the pantry, and making runs to pick up food from the various organizations that we get food items from,” she said. “Now, we're not able to have guest come into the building, so instead I answer the door, take the guests names, and sign them into the pantry. As the volunteers in the pantry get the guests’ food ready, I'll get them any items they want from the necessary shop, and then I deliver everything out to them.”
The global pandemic has been challenging for the nonprofit in other ways, as well, including the fact that there has been an increased need for food since its onset. “We have already started seeing some new guests come,” Garcia-Baitiz said. “I think we'll eventually become very busy, as unemployment rises.”
The additional safety precautions haven’t changed the guests’ appreciation for the services they receive—“They have been awesome!”—nor the community’s commitment to support the organization. “It’s been extremely helpful and encouraging seeing so many people come together to help fill our pantry shelves,” Garcia-Baitiz said.