As a key member of the Step Up to the Plate (SUTTP) initiative, Prevention Point Philadelphia served more than 345,000 free lunches to our community between April of 2020 and December 31, 2021. In total, Step Up served 878,165 meals across the city of Philadelphia.
The program wrapped up on December 31, and we are currently planning our next steps to continue serving meals to the broader community. In the mean time, we want to honor some of the amazing volunteers who have been with us from Day One. This remarkable COVID-19 response effort was only possible with the commitment, work, and love of our volunteer community.
Monica: Stylist to the People
Monica started serving meals with us back in April 2020, and ended up doing so much more. When we realized the dire need for clothing on our streets, Monica took charge of our little free boutique. She arranged and delivered countless donations and became a pro at assembling a pop-up shop in what could sometimes be a challenging environment. As a retired RN, she helped clothe thousands of people with a sense of compassion & patience.
“Believe me, this program and all its people have done more for me than they’ll ever know,” she said.
Here's to you, Monica!
Dan: The Pie Guy
When Dan McQuade wasn’t busy writing for Defector, he served free lunch to our community in Kensington. From the beginning of the program in April 2020, Dan showed up faithfully, rain or shine. Dan usually volunteered on Friday’s, which for over a year were known as “Pizza Party Fridays.” As you can see, Dan was always pretty excited to distribute some delicious pizza to our neighbors.
“I got to hand out pies of various kinds to the residents of Kensington, a place I love. It was great. Why would I not want to do this?” Dan says.
Dan, we’re grateful for your kind demeanor, spot-on sneaker style, great sense of humor, and steadfast support of Step Up and Prevention Point. You are fantastic to work with. Here’s to you!
Nikki: Bringing Service to Recovery
Nikki Volpicelli has been volunteering with the Point's Step Up to the Plate meals site for well over a year. As a person in recovery herself, and a person who has lost loved ones to overdose, Nikki brings a deep and unique level of empathy to service work:
"I lost my best friend to an accidental overdose in 2019. When I began volunteering at Prevention Point, it was for him. Now I’m coming up on a year of working at the Step Up To The Plate meal site, and with the Overdose Prevention and Syringe Services teams, and what I’ve realized is that while his memory is what got me into service, it’s not why I stayed.
Service is a lot like recovery. You enter with ideas about what you’ll get out of it, but what you receive isn’t even comparable. I began my recovery journey wanting to stop drinking and drugging. Now, three years later, I care about other people. I look people in the eyes. I use my experience to connect to others. And I get to put these traits to use when I volunteer." — excerpt from her September 2021 blog post
Nikki, we are so grateful to have connected with you. Thank you for your hundreds of hours of work on behalf of our community. We are wishing you the best of luck as you begin your MFA in fiction writing in 2022! Here's to you!
Tom and Greg: It's a Family Affair
Thomas J Frey (Tom) and his son Greg have been absolutely crucial to the success of our site in Kensington. Because of their hard work and commitment, and the support of their community at St. Miriam’s Parish and Friary, Prevention Point Philadelphia was able to add Saturdays to our lunch schedule. In addition to warm meals, Tom and Greg always delivered additional essentials to distribute, like hygiene products, socks, and packaged snacks. The PPP is pleased that they will continue their Saturday lunch service from 1 to 3 pm in 2022!
“I’ve struggled for hours thinking of a quote. As I sorted through my gallery to find a picture I like, I realized these memories were gathered over the last two years. Can you believe it’s been two years? It only feels like a couple months and that’s only possible because of the people involved — from the Point staff to the volunteers and especially our sunshines.
I watched my son and his best friend be trained to administer Narcan by Roz only to see Greg respond with Roz two weeks later and save someone’s life. He was in an inflated shark costume and Roz was dressed as a super hero. Fast forward to this Christmas day when Greg chose to help distribute over 1,000 gifts on Ruth Street and serve lunch to the community before he opened his own gifts at home.
What an incredible Community. I never would have guessed my faith in humanity would be restored during a global pandemic while in Kensington.
Greg’s teacher emailed and expressed that Greg needs to get service hours for school and his log shows zero hours. I’m giving Greg a hard time because he didn’t enter anything. His response was, ‘I didn’t think the hours counted because going to Prevention Point is like a family picnic.’ That’s how we feel about it.”
Here's to you, Tom and Greg!
Nancy: The Gentle Soul
Nancy Bragin was with Prevention Point Philadelphia's SUTTP site from Day One.
"I've been with Step Up since the very beginning. A friend of mine told me that they were having trouble getting volunteers to come to Kensington. I felt like, 'oh I can do that!' I want to serve the marginalized and the underserved people. The people that really need help. This was the perfect opportunity. I absolutely love coming here.
My favorite thing to do here is just talk with the people, and give them a smile. Although we have to wear masks, I think they get it! It's been a great opportunity and I'm really happy I had this chance."
Prevention Point's SUTTP site lead Roz Pichardo says, "Nancy is delicate with our participants. She's kind-hearted and always making sure our Sunshines have what they need to stay warm. She loves giving out sweet treats!"
We are all grateful for Nancy's work over the past 20 (TWENTY) months. Here's to you!
Photo credit: Scott Carey