Honoring the Brave, Unstoppable Staff at Neighbor to Neighbor

People’s lives have dramatically changed over the past year in unexpected ways, and no one appreciates that more than the staff at Neighbor to Neighbor.

As if the escalating needs by residents who have suffered loss of income or family members wasn’t enough, the eight Neighbor to Neighbor staff members have also gone through the upheaval of three different location moves, packing and setting up again overnight.

Without missing a beat, they continue to go to work every day, pack groceries, order food, oversee the volunteers and counsel people who cannot put food on the table due to unforeseen changes in their jobs and situation.

They currently continue to deliver approximately 450 bags of groceries plus 50 curbside pickups every week.

“Whether we identify it as grit or demonstrating resolve in facing all of the unexpected events over the past year and a half, Neighbor to Neighbor’s staff and volunteers have dedicated their efforts to serve those in our Greenwich community most in need,” said Margaret Tjimos Goldberg, Executive Director of Neighbor to Neighbor. “Everyone has shown the best of themselves during these very trying times and I am so proud to be a part of Neighbor to Neighbor.”

(Left to right) Albert Calixto, Pantry & Operations Support, Susan Maher, Communications/PR Coordinator, Carolina Ruiz, Pantry & Operations Support, Duncan Lawson, Food Resource and Operations Manager, Jane Naveros, Client Coordinator, Elvis Ruiz, Food Pantry/Driver, Jean Davis-French, Administrative Coordinator, and Margaret Tjimos Goldberg, Executive Director. Photo: Susan Maher

To honor the brave, hardworking staff members, the Fill the Build campaign for Neighbor to Neighbor is asking for help to fill their new building with shelves, tables, chairs, food and supplies to continue to pro-actively address food insecurity in Greenwich.

People can select from a wish list of items to purchase online.

Throughout the pandemic, Neighbor to Neighbor’s new building at 248 East Putnam Avenue, is being constructed, a beacon of hope, rescue, and compassion. When the staff is able to move in, this will be their fourth and final move.

“We look forward to serving our clients in the new facility in 2022,” said Pam Kelly, Building Committee Chair.

While they wait for construction to be completed with delays due to the pandemic and supply chain disruption, Neighbor to Neighbor has had to relocate for the third time, currently in temporary digs at the Horseneck Facility, one Horseneck Lane, across from the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich.

This structure has been a temporary firehouse in the past. The space is large and conveniently located to enable ease of access. Donors can drop off food, transportation services can pick up deliveries, and clients can drive through for curbside pick-up.

As large as this structure is, the staff still has not been united under one roof since the beginning of the pandemic. The executive offices currently remain at Christ Church Greenwich. They are all looking forward to being under one roof in the new building when it opens.

John Cooper and Lori Jackson are co-chairs of the Fill the Build campaign.

“The staff are truly heroes all, as they moved from the basement of Christ Church to the Teen Center on Arch Street, then North Greenwich Congregational and now to the temporary fire station on Horseneck Lane,” John explains. “They made these massive moves without skipping a beat, continuing to deliver food.” Lori shares the same appreciation for the staff. “They stepped up to the challenge and handled the increased demands despite the constant threat that one or more of them might catch Covid at any time,” John added, “It would be wonderful if everyone in Greenwich helped them land solidly on their feet when they move one final time. A small donation is all it would take to complete the task of Fill the Build.”

Be a part of this neighborhood project to help the staff walk into an efficient, functioning workplace by filling the new Neighbor to Neighbor building with shelves, chairs, tables, and food.

For more info or to donate: www.secure.qgiv.com/for/filthbu

Over the course of the pandemic, there has been an unprecedented increase in need for access to nutritious food, even as the pandemic slowly eases. Hunger and food insecurity affect many people in Greenwich: 20%+ of residents lack the income needed to cover basic necessities, and 28% of Greenwich Public School students qualify for free or subsidized lunches. Experiencing food insecurity at a young age can have lasting effects on children’s development, health and well-being, especially if families have to choose between food and medical care.

Neighbor to Neighbor staff and volunteers have been providing food assistance to approximately 500 Greenwich family households each week, working in a temporary space at the North Greenwich Congregational Church while their new building is under construction.

Neighbor to Neighbor is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that seeks to improve the lives of financially challenged residents throughout the Greenwich area. Individual clients are recommended by social services or other organizations and currently receive groceries via delivery partnerships.

The spacious, light-filled environment is ADA compliant and has many sustainable design features: an energy efficient building envelope, a high-efficiency heating and cooling system, and LED lighting.

The building is designed for smooth, easy, and safe accessibility.

Neighbor to Neighbor offers nutritious shelf stable foods and fresh groceries to promote health and well-being. In the new space, Neighbor plans to gradually transition the food pantry back to their existing client choice model and continue with special distributions (other than food) including children’s jackets, pajamas, sheets, blankets, towels, personal hygiene products, and household cleaning products.