November 10, 2020 by Gabrielle S. Martin
’Tis the season–no, not that season! Not yet, anyways. I was talking about Thanksgiving, which is, after all, just around the corner.
Our modern celebrations of Thanksgiving originate from a historic event that happened 20 or so miles south of us, some four centuries ago: The First Thanksgiving. Present-day practices surrounding the celebration of this American holiday occur on the fourth Thursday of November and include feasting, football games, parades, and pumpkin pies. What’s not to like?
Well, now that you mention it, it’s important to acknowledge that Thanksgiving has actually become something of a controversial holiday in recent years (though many who feel this way may argue it has always been problematic). Although many modern-day retellings of the First Thanksgiving negate the violence that followed, most Americans think of Thanksgiving more figurately than the literal (and complex) truths of its history. Thus, Thanksgiving is honored as a time of reflection, of giving thanks, and sharing a meal with family and friends.
Volunteering locally is a great way to give back, especially when we’re fortunate enough to live in a community as warm and welcoming as ours here in Hingham. It can be an extremely fulfilling and rewarding experience, especially when you pick a cause close to your home and heart. Here are four local places to get involved around town:
HINGHAM FOOD PANTRY
“VOLUNTEERS ARE THE HEART AND SOUL OF THE HINGHAM FOOD PANTRY.”
The Hingham Interfaith Food Pantry is located inside the Second Parish Church at 685 Main Street, operating independently from the congregation though many of its volunteers are Parish-goers. The Hingham Food Pantry aims to assist any Hingham resident facing food scarcity or shortages.
“Volunteers are the heart and soul of the Hingham Food Pantry,” says the pantry’s director Susan Kiernan. “For 30 years our organization has been run entirely by volunteers who number over 100 strong. Unfortunately, safety precautions of the pandemic and space constraints have caused a change in our model of service: thus, we have had to operate with a smaller number of people than usual. As a result, we have a waiting list of new volunteers. The need for food will, unfortunately, not go away; hopefully, the pandemic will. Please consider volunteering with the Hingham Food Pantry at that time. Typically we are more welcoming, but these are not typical times.”
So, how can you help?
Well, in response to an increased need, the Pantry has adapted its schedule for both receiving and donating food. Remember: food donations must be non-perishable, unexpired, and unopened.
Donations can be delivered to the Pantry parking lot behind the Second Parish Church on the following dates and times:
- Wednesday, November 11, from from 12:30 to 2pm;
- Monday, November 23, from 2:30 to 4pm;
- Wednesday, December 2, from from 12:30 to 2pm;
- Monday, December 14, from 2:30 to 4pm;
- Wednesday, December 16, from 12:30 to 2pm.
Bins are left out for drop-offs to assist in contactless connections. Drop off boxes are also available at Conway Real Estate, located at 321 Main Street, and the Stop n’ Shop off Route 3A.
In preparation for Thanksgiving, the Hingham Food Pantry would be most grateful for the following seasonal fare: crackers, cranberry sauce, cookies, and turkey gravy.
Alternatively, monetary donations are always appreciated and can be accepted via check (please make out to the Hingham Food Pantry at 685 Main St., Hingham) or over Venmo (use volunteer Brooke Bartletta’s handle @Brooke-Bartletta and attribute the funds to “HFP” in the note).
“WE CAN ACCOMMODATE AS MANY VOLUNTEERS AS THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO CAN HELP!”
HinghamLink was founded in mid-March in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to serve as a matching service of sorts, connecting local volunteers with recipients, or those who need help, around town. All services are free and all volunteers are welcome.
You can join HinghamLink’s volunteer bank and participate in their newest program, Leaf Raking. This service is being offered to disabled individuals, senior citizens, and veterans who need help taking care of their yards: “These are people who might have, under normal circumstances, asked a neighbor or a grandchild for help; with COVID-19, it’s gotten a lot harder to tell someone, ‘Look, I need help,’ because that person is like, ‘Guess what? I need help, too!’” HinghamLink co-founder Dan Power told me during our interview last week.
Fellow co-founder Janine Suchecki, who also works as a Housing Commissioner for the Hingham Housing Authority, serves on the Hingham Veterans Council and the Hingham Cultural Council, says, “It’s really an excellent opportunity that allows volunteers of all ages to help people in their own community by engaging with them directly, so they leave that experience knowing that the work they are doing is making an actual difference.
“The idea for leaf raking actually came from one of our recipients who needed help with her trash,” Powers shares. “In turn, the idea for trash disposal assistance came from a grocery aid recipient: it’s a virtuous circle.”
You can even expect to see snow shoveling this winter as the circle of care continues!
“Now that is one thing we need that we really don’t have yet: plow truck drivers. We need individuals with these resources and skills to help with a small number of driveways for disabled citizens, military families, and veterans,” Suchecki says.
HinghamLink also offers additional services for their recipients such as free masks, help with groceries and trash, and phone calls; thus, on the opposite side of operations, HinghamLink volunteers can sign-up to help fulfill those services.
You might be thinking, “Did I read that right? ‘Phone calls?’” You did! Volunteering to make a phone call is, above all, donating time and conversation to a HinghamLink connection. The truth is, social distancing, self-isolating, and working-from-home have all caused another pandemic: loneliness. To combat this, HinghamLink has started a service connecting individuals for “virtual visits.”
Volunteers also may assist with car trouble, laundry services, rides to doctor appointments, and prescription pick-ups.
“We often extend our scope to services beyond the basic things that we offer,” Suchecki explains. “Even if we don’t offer something, if someone vocalizes a need, we will try to find someone else who can help within the community. We want to offer aid to anyone who needs help during this difficult time.”
For the most up-to-date information, Power suggests following the HinghamLink Facebook group. “This is how people who are interested can best find out about new needs. These postings will have the most up-to-date information; it’s where we share one-offs and real-time requests as well as the announcement of new programs such as Leaf Raking.”
Power himself expresses thanks, “I’m grateful. I didn’t ever expect [HinghamLink] would grow this much. I’m thankful for people like Suzanne Kay and everybody that made face masks, and for Joelle Riddell, who coordinates our volunteers. I’m thrilled to see the high levels of volunteerism, and look forward to it continuing. We see this as an ongoing need. There are those among us that need help, and are not in that situation. I hope those people will realize how fortunate they are and will be able to give back.”
TRUSTEES OF RESERVATION
“FOR THE SIMPLE REASON THAT NATURE AND CULTURE CAN SOOTHE THE SOUL AND IMPROVE OUR LIVES.”
The Trustees of Reservation are a Boston-based non-profit organization whose aim is to protect, share, and upkeep their collection of Massachusetts properties that their visitors love for their historic, ecological, and scenic value. In fact, the Trustees were the nation’s first preservation and conservation organization; now owning and operating 116 sites statewide, their Hingham properties include Weir River Farm and World’s End.
The Trustees at Weir River Farm are in need of a Firewood Processor. Volunteers for this position will join a vibrant group of local staff and volunteers in processing and splitting wood for use in the outdoor furnace, which is used throughout the winter months to heat the farm facilities; to read more about the responsibilities of this role, visit the Trustees’ website for more information.
Volunteers can also commute across Massachusetts to visit the Trustees’ other incredible properties, including a Goat Hike Volunteer in Southborough and Salt Marsh Bird Monitors on the North Shore. Giving back doesn’t have to stop at the town borders: helping the environment upstate helps the environment on the South Shore, too.
You can assist the Trustees with Agricultural, Coastal, Curatorial, Ecological, Event and Programming, and Horticultural volunteership; their website also offers options for those with special skills (a great option for those with training in the following trades: automotive, carpentry, electrical, equipment, masonry, or plumbing), groups interested in stewardship (in which a steward “adopts” one of the Trustees properties and thereafter maintains it), and individuals who want to assist with trail maintenance.
Signing up is simple on The Trustees’ website, which hosts a wonderful wealth of information: for example, utilize this interactive resource to find available volunteer opportunities, and follow this link to register.
NVNA AND HOSPICE at THE PAT ROCHE HOSPICE HOME
“OFFERING A DIGNIFIED AND PEACEFUL ENVIRONMENT FOR RESIDENTS FACING A LIFE-LIMITING ILLNESS.”
NVNA and Hospice is the premier independent, non-profit hospice house servicing the South Shore, operating the Pat Roche Hospice Home here in Hingham. The Pat Roche Home is a beautiful, spacious 12-bed hospice house that provides residents with life-limiting illnesses dignified and peaceful patient care while offering city views, scenic gardens, and spacious grounds.
Hospice care is a much-needed service often unrecognized in its undeniable importance. NVNA and Hospice prides itself in providing palliative care, a holistic and individualized approach that aims to improve the quality of life while simultaneously relieving the suffering of patients and their families.
The Pat Roche Hospice Home is currently seeking volunteers to assist with meal prep in the kitchens and welcoming visitors. They offer weekday and weekend shifts from 8-11am, 11am-2pm, and 4-7pm. You can also put skills to use in volunteering here; for example, estheticians, hair dressers, and RNs can volunteer their services to residents!
Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age or older.