Ryan has been working at East End House for just over 4 months now as the Community Programs Associate. In this role, he handles wraparound support for children, families, and community members in their programming. Ryan decided to work for East End House because after college, he knew he wanted to work in combatting food insecurity on the local level and the organizations desire to reinvent their emergency food program was a great way for him to see change on the ground level.
The most rewarding aspect of his job is building community relationships and partnerships with organizations, as well as seeing the same faces of people each week. This helps Ryan build deeper connection to the area he’s in, as well as to understand the people in the area and the issues they face. He finds this extremely important in successfully enacting social change.
About the Organization:
East End House is a community center that strives to ensure academic achievement and success of under-resourced children and their families. They offer core programming such as middle school after school programming and childcare, which entails STEM learning to ensure that time outside of the classroom aids academic achievement. They also have an emergency food program and infant necessities program to provide for families in Cambridge and neighboring areas. Lastly, their senior program brings together seniors for workshops, classes, and health screening, which seniors attend for both social reasons and to work toward individual goals and achievement.
Why volunteer with East End House? East End House offer direct hands-on experience combatting social issues. East End House enjoys giving volunteers interaction opportunities to people who use the food bank in order to make the volunteer opportunity meaningful for everyone involved. Using the food pantry as an example, volunteers have the opportunity to see where the food is going and who it’s going to. If you’re looking for meaningful work in fighting food insecurity, East End House is the place for you!
COVID-19: During COVID-19, a lot of non-profits have experienced immense change, both positive and negative. The need for food pantries is ever-present but has been growing significantly due to the pandemic. The main goal for East End House during this time was to keep their programming alive. In this new chapter, their goal is to strive for improvement in all elements of their programming. This entails reaching higher numbers of people through their programs, as well as increasing the efficiency of them.
About the Volunteer Opportunity: The food program runs two times per week on Tuesdays and Fridays from 1-2 PM. East End House does not require income verification to use their pantry, as there are complexities on that front on who was once eligible who is now not due to COVID-19. People come all across Boston to their pantry, but mainly from the Cambridge area. On Thursday, restock volunteers organize the food they have to prep for the next distribution. From a supervisor perspective, this is a crucial step in the process as it allows them to know what’s going out of their doors and what they’re capable of ordering. This helps influence and educate on how their services are being used and use that to continuously improve what they offer.
A typical volunteer shift at the food pantry begins with filling and prepping boxes with food from 11:30 AM-1 PM. Before the pandemic, people could come into the building and East End House used a shopping system in order for people to choose the food they want. This gives people who rely on food banks autonomy and choice. This system is no longer possible due to COVID-19 safety precautions, so East End House has recently adopted a prefilled box method in order to still allow for autonomy. The boxes are full of both fresh produce and dried goods, and food distribution begins at 1 PM. There are tables set up outside with the boxes and people choose what they want and leave what they don’t.
Holiday Programs: Holiday programming is coming up! For Thanksgiving they do a basket giveaway, and they will have volunteer opportunities to help receive donations, fill, and prep bags, and distribute to community members. In the past, East End House has been able to make about 1,200 baskets per year. Due to restrictions last year, 500 were made. They are hoping to make more this year than last year! East End House has a similarly organized program around the holiday season in December with a toy drive!
Sign up on the Boston Cares Calendar now to volunteer at The East End House!