A Workday at Community Servings
By Sarah Dankens (BHS Class of 2014)
On Wednesday, February 20th, over February Break, a group of fourteen students from Belmont High School travelled to Community Servings for a gratifying day of service with their community service coordinator, Ms. Melnikoff. Community Servings (CS), located in Jamaica Plain, is a nonprofit organization that prepares and delivers 7,500 free meals each week to about 800 homebound people who are critically ill with diseases such as AIDS/HIV, Parkinson’s disease, liver and kidney disease, and numerous types of cancer. CS’s clients, 95% of whom live at or below the poverty level in the greater Boston area, receive customized, medically appropriate, nutritious meals each week. With the help of volunteers and sponsors, this organization strives to increase nutrition awareness as it successfully maintains its clients’ health and dignity.
The Belmont High School students arrived at the CS headquarters at about 9:00 AM on Wednesday. The day began with an informational session with Adam Seigal, the volunteer recruitment coordinator for CS. He described the organization’s history and mission and stressed the importance of hygiene in the kitchen. This talk proved to be insightful since many students had underestimated the rapidity and ease with which germs spread. Junior Anna Hillel reflects on the experience, “I learned a great deal about hygiene.” After having thoroughly washed their hands, the students equipped themselves with gloves and aprons before beginning work. Once in the kitchen, their tasks varied greatly from preparing delicious pasta dinners along the assembly line, to packaging fruit, to even washing the dishes!
Smiles and laughs permeated the kitchen as the students worked alongside the regular employees and chefs. Senior Steven Vail appreciated the “camaraderie” while Junior Juliette Dankens enjoyed “laughing and bonding with the cooks.” Junior Bekah Arsenault was impressed by the workers’ “dedication” and according to Sophomore Nischal Tamang, this was both an enjoyable and rewarding experience because “it felt good to help out the ill.” At the end of this eventful day, Junior Rowan Wu was amazed by “the efficiency with which we worked.” Indeed, the students put together over 1,000 meals. Seigal claims this was “a huge total and a huge help to the kitchen staff!”
The teamwork at CS also brought new dimensions to Belmont High School’s annual snowflake fundraiser in which students send snowflake ornaments to their friends and teachers during the holidays. The money raised from the sale of about 2,000 snowflakes each year is then used to purchase gifts which are assembled into baskets for CS clients. Ms. Melnikoff expresses her enthusiasm for this BHS tradition, “I love how the snowflakes project brings the BHS community together, how it creates its own buzz around the holiday season, and how it is so much fun. However, I also love that it supports such an important cause, making the holidays brighter for families struggling with critical illness, It’s easy to be so caught up in the holiday fun that the more serious purpose takes a second seat. I think that working in the kitchens of Community Servings brings that purpose into focus.”
Overall, the Belmont students greatly enjoyed this opportunity at CS to help provide meals to the critically ill. Freshman Kevin George effectively summarizes the day’s mindset, “Teamwork isn’t just about working with other people, it’s about learning and accomplishing with your allies.”
If you would like to volunteer at Community Servings, please contact Adam Seigal at 617-522-7777 Ext. 228 or