The South Shore YMCA is launching a weekly COVID-19 Community Support Challenge to rally support for local restaurants and retailers who are providing warm meals, supplies and a bit of joy for the Y’s food pantry participants, emergency shelter guests and kids and teachers at the Y’s emergency childcare centers.
The idea began with a longtime South Shore YMCA donor who saw an opportunity to simultaneously support the region’s most vulnerable people and area restaurants in danger of closing. Calling Julie and Mark Ellis at The Chef’s Table, she offered to pay for 300 meals to be delivered to senior housing residents. The Y supplemented the effort with 300 dinner rolls donated by Lombardo’s-to-Go.
“We recognized this project as an amazing opportunity to help local restaurants while also supporting the Y’s emergency efforts,” said Paul Gorman, president and CEO of the South Shore YMCA. “They need the business, and the Y needs warm meals, supplies and financial support for our food pantry, emergency shelter and emergency childcare centers.” The Y is currently seeking donors to the COVID-19 Community Support Challenge, inspired by the initial meals delivered by The Chef’s Table. Funds raised will pay local restaurants for meals that will be delivered to folks in need.
Chef Paul Wahlberg will step up to the challenge during the week of April 6 by delivering meals in the Wahlburgers food truck to guests at the Quincy YMCA emergency shelter, Father Bill’s & Mainspring shelter in Quincy, and to the South Shore YMCA’s two emergency childcare centers for essential and medical workers. Wahlberg’s other restaurant, Alma Nove, will supply prepared meals to isolated seniors at local senior housing. The South Shore Y is working to raise $10,000 from community donations to support this challenge. These dollars will also provide Easter baskets from local retailers to distribute to children through the Y’s food pantry.
“When I heard about the idea, my immediate reaction was, ‘Of course we’ll do this. We’ll figure out a way to make this work.’” said Wahlberg.
Other restaurant owners have raised their hands to step up for future challenges, including Eat Local’s Brian Houlihan, owner of The Tinker’s Son, Trident and the Galley of Scituate. “This is just about the best thing for local restaurants,” said Houlihan. “We all feel so helpless right now, and giving us this opportunity to step up and help the community with the Y is just awesome. Count us in!” George Montilio of Montilio’s Bakery has signed on as well.
“We are excited to see how the community joins us in this challenge,” said Gorman, “and we are so appreciative of our supporters like Paul Wahlberg, the Ellises, David Lombardo and all of the others. Closing a door at a YMCA, as we have been compelled to do, is devastating for a mission-based organization like ours. We are here to help people improve their lives. But with the backing of partners and donors like those who are participating in this challenge, our staff is meeting that mission.”
Patrick Murphy, Quincy YMCA Executive Director, who is helping to deliver those meals, echoes Gorman’s sentiments. “We literally cannot wait to see people’s faces when Paul Wahlberg pulls up the food truck to serve the guests at the emergency shelter here at the Quincy Y. To see that joy is why we do this work. It means so much.”
The South Shore YMCA’s The Taste of the South Shore springtime fundraiser, held annually at Lombardo’s in Randolph, has supported the Y’s social service work for the past 24 years. The event brings together more than 35 of the area’s premier restaurants, caterers, bakeries, breweries and wineries to donate their talents to support the YMCA and its causes. This year, the South Shore Y elected to postpone “The Taste” until Sept. 23, due to the COVID-19/Coronavirus crisis.
The generosity of these restaurants, food and beverage companies is what makes “The Taste” such a unique and impactful event. The COVID-19 Community Support Challenge will engage restaurants and retailers, including Taste restaurants, each week to meet basic needs on the South Shore. The South Shore YMCA is asking the community to join the challenge through donations.
“So many people in our community want to pitch in and help,” said Gorman, “but with social distancing in place, we simply cannot ask anyone to volunteer in person. These challenges offer the community a way to help and feel empowered through donations during a time when we cannot ask them to join us in person.”
For more information on the challenge and how you can help the South Shore YMCA, contact Mary Orne, firstname.lastname@example.org , 781-264-9453, or visit ssymca.org/covid19support to support the challenge through a tax-deductible donation.