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Monday, December 6, 2021

Volunteering is an obvious choice for a local person – The Daily Gazette

It all happened by chance.

It was 2004 and Larry Lewis was working as a research chemist at General Electric when his kids reached the age when working with your parents was out of fashion.

Looking for a way to fill the void, Lewis attended a board meeting for Concerned for the Hungry, a local nonprofit best known for its annual Thanksgiving food drive, which draws thousands Schenectady County provides everything families need to prepare a proper holiday feast. To cover the cost itself.

Lewis had volunteered in the expedition with his children for many years and wanted to learn more.

“I contacted one of the board members and I said, ‘Hey, tell me more about your organization,'” he recalled.

When he arrived, the group was without a secretary and asked to record the minutes of the meeting. When he came to the next meeting, the group, without a secretary, asked him to record the minutes again.

“I was slowly but surely getting sucked in,” Lewis said.

At the next meeting, the board voted to make Lewis permanent secretary of the organization, and he has not looked back since.

In fact, Lewis has played a more prominent role in the organization over the years as a grant writer, helping to secure thousands of funding that allowed the organization to continue the Thanksgiving food drive and host several other charitable drives throughout the year. Help has been received.

Today, nearly a third of the organization’s $70,000 budget comes from grants.

Lewis was among a handful of people recently recognized for his efforts at the Nonprofit Business Awards hosted by the Capital Region Chamber. The awards recognize the impact non-profit organizations have on the quality of life of the community and citizens.

Now 67 and retired, Lewis manages to set aside a few hours each week to give back to the community.

In addition to his work with Concerned for the Hungry, he teaches children to read and has honed his grant writing skills to help secure funding for other non-profit sectors. He also volunteers with SiCM, where he helps deliver food and works in the pantry.

It’s something that Lewis wishes more people like him had time to do.

“I get a little frustrated with some of my fellow retirees who talk about the stuff they do,” he said. “You can’t find an hour or two a week to help the community and the less fortunate? It just seems obvious.”

Concerned for Hungry recently completed its 42nd Thanksgiving campaign, handing out boxes filled with turkey, stuffing and other fixings to more than 1,700 homes throughout Schenectady County to help prepare a proper Thanksgiving meal at home .

The campaign lasts six days, with volunteers working to organize pallets of food donated from community members and the Northeast Regional Food Bank into individual boxes for distribution.

Worried the hungry don’t have a home year-round, so the organization, which leased space from St. Luke’s Catholic Church, completes the drive from the gym at Keane Elementary School on Albany Street in Schenectady, which is the former was home. Church’s Parish School.

The building is still owned by St Luke’s, but the lease agreement guarantees a carving organization access to the gym six days a year to complete the drive.

“We build what I call a pop-up warehouse,” Lewis said. “We have a gymnasium and then all of a sudden it’s a food warehouse, and then we tear it apart.”

It’s tough work that gets harder as the years go by, Lewis said.

The organization relies on volunteers, but the main group overseeing the Thanksgiving campaign has been with the organization for decades in some cases.

Lewis said finding willing candidates to fill leadership positions is one of the biggest problems facing the organization.

“Everybody grows up a year every year. You can’t fool the father’s timing,” he said.

But as the organization continues to seek new leadership, Lewis plans to move on.

“You have to keep yourself busy,” he said.

For more information about Concerned for the Hungry, visit: relatedforthehungry.org.

Contact correspondent Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold

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Categories: News, Schenectady County

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