COVID-19 has affected the number of volunteers, hours of operation, food distribution hours, and other programs at most Adventist Community Services (ACS) locations in North America. This is the reality at the Northeastern Conference (NEC) ACS Center.
As a result of school closings in New York City, the Queens Center for Progress was closed, reducing the number of volunteers. These volunteers were instrumental in carrying out the daily activities at the center. Their volunteer Spanish translator from the same agency had to suspend classes as well, however, volunteers from the community came to assistwith services that could adapt and continue during the pandemic.
The food distribution style was changed from “clients choice” to grab-to-go grocery bags (pre-packed bags). The hours of operation have changed from four days to two days, however, they have extended the food distribution hours to accommodate 10 people at a time. On April 29, 2020, the NECACS center served 375 families.
“The line of masked folks wrapped around several city blocks as social distancing was practiced. People have stood in line up to four hours at some places to receive their supplies. But they are so appreciative to be able to get needed groceries,” said one volunteer.
Some of the statistics from the recent activity at the center include:
- In March 2020, NECACS distributed ,1304 bags of groceries and served 2,853 people (1,547 Adults, 452 seniors, and 854 children)
- In April 2020, the center distributed 2,006 bags of groceries and served 4,832 people (2,845 adults, 446 seniors, and 1,541 children)
The center has been able to serve community members from Corona, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Flushing, Astoria, Woodside, Elmhurst, Whitestone, Rosedale, Richmond Hills, and Westbury. Five volunteers from the community have served with the food distribution.The center is thankful for their service, and is especially grateful to six additional volunteers who assisted from these churches: Corona Seventh-day Adventist Church, Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church, Silo French Seventh-day Adventist Church, and Queens Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church.
In addition to assistance from the North American Division ACS, funding was received from Food Bank for NYC, NYC Human Resources Administration, United Way of New York City, and individual donors.
Safety Measures, and Continuing Needs
Safety measures have been put in place at the center, with all volunteers given gloves, hand sanitizer, and N95 masks. They also share and inform the volunteers of the health information and guidelines from the Food Bank for NYC and NYC mayor's office. They are actively practicing social distancing, hand washing, and each client is asked to use hand sanitizer, which is placed throughout the facility.
Church members across the division can help the center with prayer. For local churches and members, monetary or in-kind donations of hand sanitizers, gloves, masks (N95), cleaning supplies, and fresh produce are appreciated.
Northeastern Conference Adventist Community Center is located in Corona, New York. For more information, contact Dr. Keicha Gosling, NECACS executive director, by email at email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org.