By Maggie Gioia | Marketing Coordinator
This past Friday, four employees from National Convenience Distributors volunteered at the INN — located in Hempstead, New York — helping to provide fresh meals to the homeless and hungry.
The group — composed of Caroline DiDiego (administrative assistant to technology, human resources and finance), Maggie Gioia (marketing coordinator), Marty Glick (executive vice president of divisional sales) and Stacey Mazzella (senior director of marketing) — prepared and served the week’s hot and cold lunches, which included a variety of beverage options as well as homemade soups, sandwiches, fruits, vegetables and healthy snacks. By the end of their shift, the team had packed over 500 meals.
“I assisted a few seasoned volunteers on the front line while I marveled over the way they ran the program and treated the individuals with such kindness,” said DiDiego. “All who received the food were humble and grateful. This work was tough, but the cause was worth every minute.”
Though the team may have focused on meal kits, the INN distributes more than just food to community members. The organization also puts together personal necessities like toiletries, first aid supplies and health items. In addition, the INN offers a free clothing boutique, a resource center, a long-term housing program and emergency shelters.
Established in 1983, the INN was initially a church-run soup kitchen. Since then, the local non-profit has grown to be the largest private social service agency of its kind on Long Island, inspiring similar locations in Central Islip, Freeport and Long Beach.
While team NCD regularly donates food and other products to the INN, donating their time was the most valuable experience of all.
“I have supported a few other similar organizations on Long Island in the past, but this was my first time volunteering at The INN. Personally, I was blown away by the operational organization, team culture, commitment and sheer passion the INN employees and volunteers exemplified. What an incredible group of people,” said Mazzella. “The experience was humbling, emotional and inspiring. I cannot wait to volunteer and support this team and their guests again.”
Although it was DiDiego’s, Gioia’s and Mazzella’s first time volunteering at the INN, Glick has been involved with the organization for nearly five years.
“NCD’s Tri-State Division’s founders, Ed and Rita Berro, had sponsored a lunch at the INN about four or five years ago. When I volunteered at the lunch among other employees, I knew I had to continue my efforts beyond the one event,” said Glick. “NCD formed a company partnership with them and so I jump at any chance to donate and volunteer, both on behalf of NCD and individually, along with my wife Robin.”
Despite his close relationship with the INN, Glick is still amazed by the “magic.”
“I’ve never seen anything like the INN. Most staff are weekly volunteers, and they work so, so hard. Their level of care is unmatched and incredibly thorough, from their services down to how they thoughtfully package their items. They treat each guest with dignity and understanding,” said Glick. “Giving back is an extremely gratifying and humbling experience. You don’t give to receive or be recognized — you give because it’s the right thing to do.”
A Message From The Author:
Typically, it is against media best practices for an author of an article or press release to cover an event they themselves participated in, as it presents a conflict of interest or a biased lens. Because I volunteered, I found it unjust to include my own quote. However, this experience was too important to not share my thoughts.
My parents taught me at a very young age to leave the world better than when you came into it. When my mom passed, that belief became even more instilled within me. I knew that no matter what I decided to do with my life, it had to be driven by this very belief. I am so proud to be part of a company that uplifts the community in many ways. NCD’s partnership with the INN is a perfect example of this.
Volunteering at the INN, as my colleagues noted, was such a humbling and inspirational experience, but more than that, it made me feel energized and connected. To know that we were able to directly impact someone’s life for the better is a blessing. You could feel the passion in the room. The kindness and enthusiasm of the volunteers and the comprehensive care they provide is unlike anything I have ever seen. The INN is a reminder of what life is truly all about, and I am honored to have been part of it.