UMACC Road Trip

In May I scheduled three visits to local non-profit organizations, and invited those folks who had donated to the organizations to join me for a tour the facility.

First up was a tour of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The Food Bank distributes ten million pounds of food a year, providing 8.25 million meals to families in western Massachusetts. My first impression upon walking into the enormous warehouse that stores all this food was, “Wow!” Shelves and pallets stacked from floor to ceiling with pasta, canned tomatoes, dry beans, and more. They even have a walk-in refrigerator for fresh produce, and several large chest freezers for meat. The Food Bank gets their food from many sources, including purchasing outright, donations, and “recovered” food (the meat in the freezer comes from stores that freeze the meat on the “best by” date; the stores won’t sell the meat, but it is still perfectly safe to eat). They also have partnerships with local farmers who donate fresh, local produce. The Food Bank employs 50 people, creating local jobs while also helping to feed local families.

UMACC employees and retirees on the Food Bank tour

UMACC employees and retirees on the Food Bank tour.

The next tour was the Amherst Survival Center. Their mission is to connect people “to food, clothing, healthcare, wellness, and community, primarily through volunteer efforts.” The emphasis on volunteering is right in their mission statement, and this was evident on our visit. ASC has two full-time employees, nine part-time employees, and over 200 volunteers. Each area of the ASC – the kitchen, where a hot lunch is prepared and served four days a week; the community store where everything (clothing, toys, household items) is free; the food pantry, where families can take home a week’s worth of groceries; and the health-care clinic, where you can be seen by a medical professional without an appointment – is staffed by volunteers, and supervised by a part-time volunteer coordinator. One of the things that impressed me the most was how smoothly everything ran. We were greeted by a cheerful volunteer at the front desk, we visited the community store where parents were picking out clothing for their kids, we walked through the food pantry where people were loading up with groceries, and we peeked in the kitchen, where a healthy hot meal was being prepared. And then we sat down to partake of the hot lunch and it was delicious! I had brown rice, dal, mushroom frittata, green salad, and fresh fruit.

Our last tour for the month was the Dakin Humane Society in Springfield. After braving the construction on I-91 and in Springfield, we arrived at the clean and spacious building. One of the first things we saw was a room dedicated “Spirit” cats. These cats are not your typical, friendly lap cats, instead these felines like to hide, and may not let you pet them. Where other animal rescue organizations might deem these kitties “unadoptable,” at Dakin they are called “great with other cats; great choice for patient, kind people who have a quiet household; a fine choice if you don’t have a lot of time to devote to a pet.” We also took a walk through the spay/neuter clinic (which was closed at the time), where they have spayed/neutered 67,000 animals since 2009 (that is not a typo!). In the dog run we met Cali, a sweet pit-bull mix who stood up and wagged her tail when I walked over. I tentatively held my hand out for her to smell and she immediately licked it!

Cali (dog) from the Dakin Center

Cali of the Dakin Center. She liked Jennifer.

The employees and retirees who attended the tours were all very grateful for the opportunity, and very impressed with the three organizations. We definitely plan to make this an annual occurrence! We definitely plan to make this an annual occurrence!   

- Jennifer Page, Manager, UMACC


Oh look how cute Cali is!

Oh look how cute Cali is! Have you got a bigger picture of this sweet dog? Warm regards, Eri

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