by Sue Smith Romero
Note: We updated this post on June 28, 2020, when the Food Drive ended.
Soon after the Irish Cultural Center closed due to New York State’s pandemic pause in March 2020, our board members began to think of ways to help. There were so many people suddenly impacted by the shutdown of businesses and schools that it was difficult to know where to start. But a glance across the street to Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen and our ancestral memories of famine answered the question soon enough. We knew our natural mission was to provide food.
We published an appeal for donations on our website and Facebook page and it didn’t take long for our Irish community to respond with characteristic kindness and generosity. In a few days, we were able to raise more than $1500 which we distributed to soup kitchens in Utica, Rome, and Herkimer. And that was just the beginning.
Each non-profit received a check for $275 from our fundraiser’s first phase. Here are their touching words of gratitude. Read them to know how much your donations mean to people in need, but also to glimpse inside the impact of Covid-19 on our local area.
Lori Wood, Salvation Army of Herkimer
“Thank you for the recent donation that you sent us! The money will be used to continue feeding the increase of people that we have seen. Since this pandemic started, we have been sending out about 150 hot meals per night out of our soup kitchen, which has tripled since this began. We have also been taking care of some of the first responders and making sure that they have hot meals.”
John P. Madej, Hope House
“Thank you for the check to Hope House. During this uncertain time in our world, it is beyond words to describe the generosity of our community. Monetary donations allow us to keep our doors open, albeit for take out lunches only. It also gives us latitude to purchase food items that can be distributed directly to those in need. Once again, thank you and your donors for keeping hope alive.”
Lucas Richmond, Rescue Mission of Utica
“We here at the mission can’t thank you enough for all you’re doing. The donation has been a great help for us with feeding the less fortunate at this time. I have personally seen the joy on people’s faces when they receive a meal. To be able to feed the community and our clients, that in most part are becoming increasingly anxious about food security is a blessing. With your donation, this makes our job of processing these meals that much easier. Thank you for all you do.”
Captain Michael Harrington, Salvation Army of Utica
“On behalf of The Salvation Army in Utica and the individuals and families we serve, please accept our most sincere gratitude. We are experiencing some tough times, but it’s times like this when people are hurting by the thousands, good people take action. The Irish Cultural Center has joined the #FightForGood. Your thoughtful contribution helped us provide a record-breaking 20,000 meals over this past month, but your donation provided more than just food. You provided hope. Keep up the great work and may God bless all of you.”
Ed Morgan, Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen
“What a wonderful e-mail I received yesterday stating that MMWSK would be the recipient along with other pantries and kitchens of $275.00 from The Irish Cultural Center. You have no idea how much this is appreciated and needed at this time. With the COVID 19 social distancing, we have had to only give take out meals to our guests. Take out containers and utensils for 4500 meals/month is almost $1,000. Our numbers are up about 7% for the past 4 weeks and I think that will continue for a while. Increased food costs and decreased donations from restaurants and colleges all affect how we can feed those in need. For an organization that is funded solely on donations, these are heavy unexpected costs.
I want to thank the Irish Cultural Center board of Directors for being so generous and responsive to the needs of those organizations that everyday help those who can’t help
Matt Miller, Rome Rescue Mission
“Thank you for your donation from the Irish Cultural Center. As you may know, since March 16th the Rome Rescue Mission started delivering food to 12 locations throughout the greater Rome area. Covid-19 has hit us all very hard. Your donation really helps us continue to go out into the community providing meals. Since we started, we have delivered over 15,000 meals! Just as important to the meals is interacting with the hundreds of people that are frightened, confused, and alone. I have had the privilege of consoling a young woman who lost her grandmother, pray with a man that is lonely and depressed, give encouragement to many seniors and pass out tasty treats to hundreds of children.
Your donation means much more than a meal…it provides hope.
Thank you so much!”
As you can see from these notes, our first donations did a great deal of good. But more was still needed. So our fundraiser continued. In the end, it raised a total of $4,650 with $775 going to each of the six food pantries. The Irish community of the Mohawk Valley, even while struggling with its own financial difficulties brought on by the quarantine, really came through! We can’t thank you all enough!