Quincy–Long lines of people standing stoically in the cold and the rain waiting for hours to receive essential food items are becoming the new norm for the South Shore YMCA’s Germantown Neighborhood Center Food Pantry since the onset of COVID-19.
“We’re on the front line every day and you have to really put yourself in a different place when you’re out there. It’s surreal. It’s like you’re in a dream. I’ve done social service work my entire career, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Kathy Quigley Development Director at the South Shore YMCA.
Facing a dramatic rise in emergency food pickup and delivery runs and knowing the demand for food was growing by the day, the YMCA staff was devastated when the 14-year-old van that served as its main delivery vehicle broke down.
Knowing that Daniel J. Quirk, Founder and CEO of Quirk Automotive has been a long-time supporter of community organizations like the YMCA, Quigley reached out to see if there was anything that could be done to help.
“The call to Mr. Quirk was made at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, and by 4:30 p.m. that same day I was at the Quirk dealership meeting with Mr. Quirk who began showing us the best vans at the facility, and explaining which ones had the best navigation system, equipped with better turning radius and a history of fewer accidents. Knowing the scope of our work, he graciously matched us up with the best van to fit our needs,” said Paul Gorman, President and CEO of the South Shore YMCA.
“We are providing more food than we ever have in the history of the South Shore YMCA. Food output has more than quadrupled since the outbreak of COVID-19. We have seen our food output demand increase from around 5,000 pounds a week to 20,000 pounds of food per week,” said Gorman.
Gorman said he appreciates how quickly Dan Quirk stepped forward to address the community need, especially during such a difficult time for so many businesses and donors. “We are extremely grateful for Mr. Quirk, and with this gift of a new van, we will be able to continue the important work that we do for our communities,” said Gorman.
Many food pantries are in dire need of extra hands but can’t bring them aboard due to the dangers of spreading the virus, leaving skeleton crews manning the endless stream of individuals and families who are in desperate need of food and shelter.
“We wanted to keep things contained. Under normal circumstance we may have 20 volunteers in-house at any one time, but once COVID-19 hit, we had to pull things back for the safety of everyone. We’re running lean and mean,” said Patrick Murphy, Senior Executive Director of the Quincy YMCA.
Keeping these concerns in mind, the YMCA has come to depend on a limited staff which they are referring to as the “Steady Seven”, comprised of seven dedicated employees Monday through Friday who are working four times the hours and leaving their homes and families earlier and coming home later than ever before, said Murphy.
In addition to trying to accommodate increased food demands, the South Shore YMCA association has been facing tremendous financial hardships attributed to business restrictions and lost revenue resulting from COVID-19. “We’re looking at a good week, if we can keep our losses around the $150,000 range. A bad week falls closer within the $300,000 range,” said Gorman.
“In one hundred and thirty years, we have been through wars, pandemics, recessions and depressions, and yet we continue to evolve. We know we’ll come out on the other side of this, we might look a little different, but we’ll still be here”.
Donations to the South Shore YMCA to benefit their Germantown Neighborhood Food Pantry can be made online at: https://ssymca.org/give/donate/.
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