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Samuel Morales Experiences the Joy of Volunteering

Residents and Staff of the Red Spring House Supports the Glen Cove community through church, hospital partnership

Samuel Morales, a resident, and Christine Basile, manager, of Red Spring Lane.
Samuel Morales, a resident, and Christine Basile, manager, of Red Spring Lane.

Recently, residents and staff of the Citizens Options Unlimited Red Spring Lane Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA) began working in partnership with the Trinity Lutheran Church Food Pantry in Glen Cove.

One evening, during a food distribution, Red Spring Lane House Manager Christine Basile called out to all the volunteers to see if anyone could provide translation in Spanish, as two-thirds of the families served by the pantry are Spanish speakers. All a sudden she heard a soft voice.

It was the voice of Red Spring Lane resident Samuel Morales, a quiet and reserved young man. Throughout the rest of the evening, Samuel continued to provide translation, making the process of providing food to the families who rely on the food pantry more efficient.

Dean Davidson and Samuel Morales at the Trinity Lutheran Church Pantry in Glen Cove
Dean Davidson and Samuel, who attend affiliate agency AHRC Nassau’s Sea Cliff Program Without Walls together, enjoy volunteering at the Trinity Lutheran Church Pantry in Glen Cove.

“I just said, ‘Does anyone know how to say 10 in Spanish?’ and then Samuel just said it,” Christine said, describing how the pantry was using a number system to distribute food. “So, he was calling the numbers in Spanish, and I was just in awe. He filled the bags with food and handed them out.”

Samuel is very proud of his Honduran heritage, having lived in Honduras for a period of his life. When asked what brings him the most pride when it comes to his heritage, he said it was his family.

“He really likes speaking Spanish,” said Christine, who has known Samuel for 2 ½ years. “He really connects with Spanish-speaking staff and other people that speak his language. That’s very important to him.”

Samuel also embodies the spirit of volunteering. It’s important to him to help families get the food they need. He enjoys volunteering alongside his friend Dean Davidson, who he met at the affiliate agency AHRC Nassau’s Sea Cliff Program Without Walls. Samuel said volunteering at the pantry was fun.

From that evening on, Samuel’s community noticed a change in his personality. He began starting conversations more often, expressing his wants and needs more, and asking Christine if he could join her on errands. His family, friends, and support system are all very proud of him.

Samuel is looking forward to volunteering with the Trinity Lutheran Church Food Pantry more often.

The Trinity Lutheran Food Pantry is open on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 7 p.m. It has been open for approximately 10 years; however it began to grow during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Brenainn Mairtin Flanagan, who practices family medicine and worked for Glen Cove Hospital at the time, requested a partnership with the pantry, after noticing patients struggling with food insecurity. Patients could easily be directed to the pantry, since it’s right across the street from the hospital.

Samuel Morles packing food for families who rely on the pantry.
Samuel packing food for families who rely on the pantry.

Since then, nurses and staff at Glen Cove Hospital volunteer weekly and collect food serving approximately 35 families a week.

The Red Spring Lane House got involved with the Trinity Lutheran Church Food Pantry due to their deep roots in the Glen Cove community. Christine, being a life-long Glen Cove resident and a member of the local EMS, found out that her daughter, a nurse at Glen Cove Hospital, was among the staff members volunteering at the pantry. She reached out to see if the residents, as well as attendees of AHRC Nassau’s Sea Cliff PWW, could be of any help. Since then, residents and program attendees have been helping with stocking during the day and distribution in the evening.

“The residents, staff, and program attendees go to the pantry and organize everything,” said Paola Wilches, the Glen Cove Hospital Patient Care Manager of the Family Medicine Ambulatory Care Center. “It’s so important, because when we get there, we know where everything is, and it makes everything more efficient. And once we’re done, we can quickly figure out what we need to bring next week.”

The agency volunteers are also helping to fill in a gap, since many Glen Cove Hospital staff members will be on vacation over the summer and will miss some volunteer dates. Paola said that the contribution of the agency volunteers is invaluable, and that they’re making a significant impact in the community.

“There’s so much going on in the community, and people don’t realize it,” Paola said. “We see it every day in the clinic, people who are dealing with the choice of buying medication or buying food or having a difficult time paying rent. So, when patients come, and know that they have resources like the pantry, it’s super important so that they know that they’re not alone, and that there is community leadership that cares for them.”

Samuel Morales and the other volunteers in a selfie
All the volunteers took a selfie to celebrate their successful food distribution.

With the help of people served, Trinity Lutheran Church Pastor Travis Yee is looking forward to expanding the amount of food and services that the pantry can provide to the community.

“When the residents and program attendees come, they’re just excited,” Pastor Travis said. “Everyone is excited to help, whether it’s stocking the shelves, or breaking down boxes, or organizing the vegetables or checking the dates. Everyone is eager to help, eager to be there. It’s just a very uplifting atmosphere.”

Christine also enjoys bringing the residents of Red Spring to all the wonderful activities Glen Cove has to offer, such as the Friday night Downtown Sounds concerts, Morgan Memorial Park Music Festival, the annual Snapper Derby, the local parades, and National Night Out.

“They’re in the community and they’re connecting with people,” Christine said.

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