Full Plate volunteers Michael and Paula Goldberg invite others to join the fun
Michael and Paula Goldberg, stalwart volunteers each week at The Louis & Goldie Chester Full Plate Kosher Food Pantry (The Full Plate), shared their thoughts about why they do it.
When did you start volunteering at The Full Plate?
Paula: I lost my job teaching Family and Consumer Science (also called Home Economics) at Warwick Veterans Memorial High School when the department was eliminated in 2009. I saw a notice in The Jewish Voice & Herald about a need for volunteers. I am working part-time now, so I volunteer once a week, whenever my work schedule allows.
Michael: I didn’t want to sit around and twiddle my thumbs after I retired from my industrial sales position in 2016. Paula encouraged me to join her, and I did.
What’s the appeal? Why continue to volunteer?
Michael: Paula used to volunteer at a soup kitchen at Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Warwick; the minister there often said – when asked how he was – “I am grateful.” That struck me as a wonderful response, given how fortunate we have been in our lives. I enjoy the people we volunteer with and meeting the clients… they are delightful.
Paula: Volunteering here is an extension of what I taught high school students. When we did a unit on basic human needs, students visited a variety of agencies in Rhode Island that helped their clients meet their needs for clothing, food and shelter. Students often brought toiletries, food or clothing for agencies to give to their clients. I was looking for something worthwhile and I like helping people meet their basic human needs. And, what’s more basic than food? I also have made wonderful friends with staff and other volunteers and I enjoy interacting with the clients.
Now that The Full Plate is in JCS’ new offices on North Main Street in Providence, is anything new or different?
Michael: There were many people who couldn’t get to the old location on Niantic Avenue (where Jewish Seniors Agency was located), so we’d deliver food to them.
Paula: Now, more people visit the North Main Street location, as it’s closer to many clients’ homes. They are able to come in and choose their own food.
Foods most in demand?
Paula: Our Russian clients always ask for kasha, borscht and matzah; they eat matzah even when it’s not Passover.
Message to those considering volunteering?
Paula: It’s very rewarding; we get to meet people from all walks of life, and volunteering here definitely makes a difference in people’s lives. The staff from Jewish Eldercare of Rhode Island (JERI) at Jewish Seniors Agency and JCS have all been very welcoming.
Michael: I’ve been reading articles about countries whose residents are happier… they report that volunteering and helping others is good for our own self-worth and sense of happiness. Volunteering gives you a purpose.
Other volunteer projects?
Paula: Through West Bay Community Jewish Center, I started the McAuley House Baking Project, and when we joined Temple Emanu-El, volunteer bakers were recruited from there, as well. The project has grown to include neighbors and friends and relatives of other bakers. A few of the JCS staff members “stress bake” and don’t want to eat what they make, so they have contributed to the project as well. Bakers are asked to bake a double batch of a dessert item and bring their baked goods (without nuts) to me once a month for delivery to McAuley House, a multi-faceted social services agency that serves lunch to approximately 300 people each day.
Michael: We both serve on the board of our local library and volunteer at Tamarisk (The Phyllis Siperstein Tamarisk Assisted Living Residence), and I deliver Kosher Meals on Wheels once a week, too.
Paula: We are lucky to have found a volunteer position that we look forward to going to each week. As a Jewish mother, I am happy to see people be able to put food on their plate.
Want to “stress bake” for the McAuley House Baking Project? Contact Paula Goldberg at email@example.com.
Want to volunteer at The Full Plate? Contact Marcie Ingber (401) 331-1244