I'm sitting here early this morning just reflecting on this past week. It's been like no other week I've experienced in my life. COVID-19 has come to New York and it's brought a lot of uncertainty and new ways of life with it. It's vicious and it's changed our lives and keeps us from many things that we love but it cannot steal our hope and joy.
Last week following our governor's request for social distancing etc. as an essential resource (food pantry) we made the decision to only have one or two people working in our building at a time. We spread out the volunteer hours, made a schedule and told people that we totally understand if they don't want to come right now. Our motto is SIMPLIFY & SERVE. We have cut down our activities to only food and supply related at this time. It's just not safe to take in used household donations and clothing knowing that those donations could harbor this terrible virus. It's just not worth it and we're being kept busy with distributing food and supplies four days a week 2 hours a day and partnering with Huntington Assembly (Pastor Danny Rivera), Friends of the Huntington Station Latin Quarter (Xavier & Laura Palacios) local food establishments and Friends of HHRM to bring "drive thru" hot meals 2 days a week (650 meals served last week. That's been awesome and is running smoothly. We've had to raise additional funds to help fund the meals, packaging etc. We've been asking local restaurants to make 200 meals for $500 on Wednesdays and Fridays. Pastor Danny & HSLQ have been getting an additional 200. It gives the restaurants some business and gives us some great food to share. This past week our partners were RED & Mama Lucia. The families REALLY enjoyed the meals.
We've been taking in the leftover lunches and breakfasts from our school district and distributing them, preparing extra lunches & family snack bags for distribution and that being said, we had to purchase a new commercial size fridge 54" to keep perishable foods at proper temperatures. It will be delivered around April 7th and we can't wait to get it. We've been securing cleaning supplies like bleach, soaps, detergent, paper towels, hand sanitizer, antibacterial whatever we can find, diapers, wipes, formula and double doses of encouragement and prayer.
We've also been enjoying some family time as we "social distance". We have our two college "kids" Heather and AJ ( and Heather's 14 year old Jack Russell Lulu-Einstein's new BFF) home with us from Virginia. AJ is in the 4th year of a 5 year engineering program and is now doing all his studies online. Heather is studying exercise science and she's been busy online as well. They no longer have their jobs or the opportunity to be with friends at this time. It can be a little discouraging but there's nothing like family and we are enjoying the time that we have together. Mattison is in North Dakota in the USAF and is doing well although they are having their share of COVID-19 there. Drew is living here on Long Island and doing what he can to get through this crisis. Gianna is with her mom up in Mass and is doing 5th grade online. She won't be coming for Spring Break and we're bummed about that but it's ok. Next time will be better:) Sometimes it's hard for young people to stay encouraged but we're trying to help them navigate these uncertain time.
Marianna Cava, my new administrative assistant has been working remotely and is updating our website and social media posts regularly, fielding calls and requests and doing an amazing job. It was like, "Welcome Marianna, start your awesome mission job and hey...it's a pandemic everything's changing. Can you do a million things at once. And she can." She's awesome and we're so happy to have her. Her love and heart for the people that we serve is amazing.
John Walsh our Food Pantry manager has been packing food bags solo twice a day and is keeping us up to date on our pantry needs. He's a real blessing and always smiles and encourages me that it's going to be ok. He can't believe the number of bags that we are giving out.
Jennifer Laino has been helping with correspondence, donor thank you letters and filling in wherever she's needed. She's always so helpful and a true friend and asset to HHRM. WE ARE BLESSED!
Ingrid Wright & Graciela Lopez have been assisting with pantry hours. Their love shines as they love people through the glass doors from a distance for now.
Irma Cuaresma has been identifying single moms and families that have no way to get out or around, small children etc. We are working with a local scout leader who is going to get those families the basic food items that they need.
Our community is coming together in so many ways. Over the last two weeks we have distributed
745 Lunches & family snack bags "to go"
140 Bags of Diapers & Wipes given to families
110 Bags of cleaning supplies (bleach, detergent, sanitizer paper prod)
187 Pantry food bags distributed
650 Meals Served "Drive Thru" Style (w Hunt. Assembly & HSLQ)
We will be having our "Spring Into Easter" Celebration "Drive Thru" style this year
just a little differently. We are so happy to have partnered with Hunt. Assembly.& Friends of HSLQ to accomplish this. See the pdfs on our home page for more details. I'm SO HAPPY Easter isn't cancelled!! Whoohoo! The kids and their families will be so happy to receive their Easter baskets and see our faces from their cars. We love them so much!
Is this easy? NO! Is it going to be ok? YES! We just have to take this storm one day at a time. It's constantly changing, the news is paralyzing so we don't listen to it all day every day. We are filling ourselves with hope and courage, walking in a newfound confidence as we pray and ask for God's protection and guidance.
My favorite quotation this week is:
"On the other side of a storm is the strength that comes from navigating through it. Set your sails and begin."-Gregory Williams
My verse of the week is "Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion that cannot be shaken but abides forever." Psalm 125:1
We know it's going to be quite a while but every day is a day closer to us being on the other side of this pandemic. Our prayers are with those suffering through this horrific disease. We know several personally who are going through hard times with the virus. We pray for their complete recovery. We pray for all medical people for their strength and protection. We pray for our leaders. We pray for our own protection and health, God's provision and peace over our little Mission on Broadway. We know He will be faithful!
I've started a little "thing" in the mornings to connect with family and friends on my personal Facebook page @kimgambino "Coffee With Kimmi" it's a morning opportunity to refuel, recharge and be together.
You're welcome to join us whenever you're able.
Let's stay strong and work together although it be from a distance for a while.
We are helping our community and we're loving and serving like never before!
I I'm continually made aware of and I am eternally grateful for God's faithfulness in my life. Nothing is possible without HIM. He does all things well and He is always working...sometimes behind the scenes and we wonder what's going on up there but he's ALWAYS working on our behalf.
Today as we worked at HHRM....My new assistant,-Marianna, Jenn & I mostly were in the office, Irma in the Community Closet & reception area, Sasha in the sorting room and other volunteers helping with organizing Baby Blessings, IT work and cleanup... I watched so much work get accomplished in such an efficient manner that it made me smile. What would have taken a couple of weeks is now completed in days and sometimes even in hours. What a blessing to be surrounded by people with incredible skills and gifts to do the work that must be done.
The team that we have so far is working very well together and everyone seems to enjoy working together and that is a true blessing. There's no "me" it's all "we" and that is beautiful. I love it.
I can remember when it was mostly just my mom, dad and I and a couple of volunteers...things got done but lots of times as a friend of mine put it to quote from an Ice Age movie it was "spit, grit and a whole lot of duct tape" which got the job done and was good for that season. The work was overwhelming and the hours were often exhausting just to be honest, though I'm not complaining. Then my dad passed away and mom and I worked together for 7 years enlisting more volunteer help, still working hard and dreaming of the day when we could do things a little bit differently...maybe even have some staff...
I feel that we as an organization are moving into a new season. A new beginning of sorts when all of those seeds sown for many years are beginning to peek through the soil to create a coming harvest...I think of the many seeds that were sewn by my parents, my grandmother and all those who have worked and volunteered through the years at HHRM. They are the seeds of God's word, the seeds of financial sacrifice, the seeds of work that no-one saw being done and also the work that many have been a part of. Many seeds sown with tears for many reasons... all of those seeds are growing and it is my desire that God will see these seeds through to fruition. They are His seeds and He is faithful to His work. He will be faithful to complete the work that He has begun here. We must only be faithful and trust in His faithfulness.
Tonight I will make dinner and will enjoy the evening at home. I don't have to do a ton of paperwork or work on the mailing list and do flyers because it's all done!! I haven't had a time like this in the 10 years that I have been working at HHRM. There was always more work to do late at night and early in the am; emails, mailings, thank you letters, contacts etc. and I never minded doing any of it. My husband is a trooper and never really complained though sometimes he would say, "Take a break..." and I would:) He always helps where he is able to and I am grateful for him and for his support and encouragement.
Thank you to everyone who has encouraged and helps our mission and outreaches in prayer and in many other ways. We are grateful and as we like to say, "The BEST is yet to come."
So, I started this blog a while ago and began writing about my parents, the mission and how they started it all etc. To be honest it's one of my favorite stories and I hope to continue it as we go along here. Sometimes it's a lot to write about and I want to be sure that I take time to share things happening now as well.
So please join us as we write about our mission and how we're moving forward.
We have a lot of plans and dreams. Things that we want to accomplish. We are grateful for the strong foundation that our founders and all those who came before us built HHRM upon and we are continuing the story. We're excited about it and want to share it. From time to time we'll share an historical moment or recollect about something because we never want to forget.
I'm realizing that I have dreams of my own to share here at HHRM. Things to accomplish and exciting days ahead. I don't want to miss it by being stuck in the past. I hope that you feel my heart here. So here are a few encouraging words for today...we'll be writing more soon....
Inspiration...motivation...intentional living...these are words we hear all around us every day. The truth of the matter is quoting Ecclesiastes, "there is nothing new under the sun".
Every day my inbox gets hit messages about how to be more inspiring, how to maximize your motivation and by all means how to live your life with purpose and intention.
The fact is it's a daily discipline. Waking up and doing things that in reality you really may not feel like doing in order to accomplish your goals and achieve your dreams.
Some people give up too quickly because they don't see results right away...the scales not moving quickly enough, no one really cares about my dream, God knows my heart so I'll skip my prayer time today...
To me anything that we do in life that is worth doing requires COMMITMENT. Are we in it for the long road no matter how long it takes? Are we all in or do we go up and down with the changing times, fads and tides?
Plain and simple and I'm speaking to myself today, "Stick with it and keep moving forward." One of my favorite inspirational quotations is from Paul in the Bible, Galatians 6:9 They even needed motivation in the days of the early church. It's NOTHING NEW. It says, "So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up."
I'll take this a step further...
Do good consistently and don't get tired of it and you will reap a harvest of blessing.
Eat right and exercise your body will thank you and you'll see results in due time.
Work to build strong relationships with people and you'll have others to come alongside you, to lead and to encourage in this life. They will help you towards your goals.
Take time for the important things in your life. Not just doing but being, resting, recharging, family, friends etc.
Don't just work your life away. Work is important but so is rest. Learn to know when to walk away for a bit. It's ok.
I want to do work that matters today. I want to enjoy my life.
I want to be surrounded by likeminded people who also encourage others. I want to be a lifter, a mover and a shaker and with God's help I know that I can do all of these things as He gives me strength.
People often say, "Kim, I don't know how your do all of the things that you do?" The truth is, "I don't." "WE DO".
WE being the team that I am blessed to share my days and vision with. As one of our staff office workers Jennifer L Laino likes to say, "We're evolving." She says it almost every time that we're together and it's so true. We are changing, growing and become all that we can be to serve others and to serve God here in this community.
The needs are so great but that's ok. We pray and we believe for abundant provision and blessing as we work and one by one the needs are always provided for. We don't ask for outlandish things just practical things...food, clothing, household items, toiletries, diapers, wipes, Easter baskets, some volunteers to help and some finances to help us to do the work that we do.
Together we are strong and together we will continue to accomplish much here in our community.
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We're excited and grateful for every day that we have to be here and we thank you for your support!
"People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” :)
Kim (Gaines) Gambino serves as the President/Pastor of the Helping Hand Rescue Mission in Huntington Station.