When the hospital comes together to serve our neighbors in need, everyone wins!
Over the last several weeks — from November 28 through December 16 — Lawrence General staff collected donations of non-perishable food items along with baby formula, diapers, and toiletries, at our various Lawrence General locations throughout the community.
The reason: To help our friends and neighbors served by Lazarus House Ministries’ food pantry, which serves between 1,200 and 1,800 guests each Wednesday.
Our goal — as is that of Lazarus House — was to provide nourishing and culturally relevant food to anyone who is hungry and comes through the doors of the 242 Hampshire St., food pantry. Lawrence General teamed up with our clinical affiliate partner Holy Family Hospital to see which hospital could donate the most food, and in the end, it was Lazarus House that reaped the benefits of each hospital’s generosity.
On Thursday, Dec. 22, Lawrence General President and CEO Deborah J. Wilson and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Robin Hynds dropped off the hospital’s donation to grateful Lazarus House staff.
"We know that food insecurity is one of the leading social determinants of health that, if not addressed, can lead to poor health outcomes, which is why this food drive and the admirable work they do at Lazarus House is so important," Wilson said. "The entire Lawrence General family was so pleased to team up with our clinical affiliate partner Holy Family Hospital for this collection drive. Through our clinical affiliation announced earlier this year, our two independent organizations are working together to coordinate clinical expertise and outstanding care and this friendly competition is one extra way we can combine forces for the good of the people in the communities we serve."
Lawrence General staff — led by Wilson — donated a whopping 1,050 pounds of food and other non-perishable goods, while Holy Family — led by President Craig Jesiolowski — collected 1,551 pounds for their donation. We are so grateful to our hospital volunteers, facilities staff and many others who came together to assist with donation bin drop-off, food collection, weighing of food items and delivery and other necessary tasks to make this project a success.
Lazarus House’s Executive Director Carmen Vega, Director of Development Donna Morris, and Food Services Coordinator Liset Garcia took the group on a tour of the Hampshire Street pantry, where staff was busy packing bags for distribution just days before Christmas.
“It truly takes a village,” Vega explained. “Without our partners, we wouldn’t be able to keep our doors open. Prior to COVID, we used to serve 600 people each Wednesday at our food pantry, and now we see upwards of 1,200-1,800.”
During their weekly food pantry, open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Lazarus House provides each person a pre-packed bag of food suitable for a family of four, Garcia explains, calling the offering “supplemental” food options. Typical items include pasta and sauce, a protein, and vegetables. Staff are mindful to include cultural food staples popular within the Lawrence community, she said.
Food is provided to those in need with no questions asked. Lazarus House staff has begun to voluntarily collect demographic information from guests, however, in hopes of applying for grant funding.
According to Vega, the need has shifted not just to include “unsheltered guests” but also the working poor.
“They have to choose between putting gas in the car, food on the table or paying the utility bill,” Vega said. “We don’t turn anyone away. It’s been a heartbreaking year facing all those realities. Food insecurity is year-round.”
It is the hope of both Lawrence General and Holy Family hospitals that through our food drive, guests served by Lazarus House can go into 2023 with full bellies and, as a result, feeling healthier overall.
Explained Jesiolowski: “Part of healthy patients is having the proper diet and food at home.”