PRESS RELEASE

Caring for Friends Honors Top Volunteers Providing Food & Friendship to Homebound, Homeless & Hungry Neighbors in Need

Awardees and Network of 10,000 Volunteers Helped Provide 12 Million Pounds of Food in 2021

April 20, 2022, Philadelphia, PA—As April 18-22 is volunteer week, Caring for Friends (CFF) food bank is pleased to announce its top volunteers for 2021. CFF relied on a network of more than 10,000 volunteers last year to: pack and distribute 12 million pounds of food to families and individuals; deliver more than a half a million meals to homebound seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities; and provide 400 servings of food monthly to people experiencing homelessness. CFF meets its mission to ensure no one goes hungry or alone in a world of caring people due to these generous people:

  • Rita Ungaro-Schiavone Volunteer of the Year Award: Arlene and Tony Urbanski. Named for the Caring for Friends founder, this award is presented to this Northeast Philadelphia couple for their lifetime contributions to CFF and the more than 100 homebound people to whom they’ve provided food and friendship over four decades. The Urbanskis, who are seniors themselves, have been visiting homebound individuals since CFF’s inception 48 years ago, when they met and worked with CFF founder, Rita Schiavone, and they kept visiting homebound people throughout COVID, and they continue now.
  • Caring Company of the Year: ACME Markets. In addition to providing a thousand Thanksgiving meals for families, ACME also generously donated needed protein to neighbors facing hunger throughout 2021. As need continued to be at an all-time high last year due to the pandemic, ACME also provided a $50,000 grant through its Nourishing Neighbors program to help feed the high number of people in need in our communities.
  • Caring Community Organization of the Year: Rotary Club of Glenside. The mission of this group is “Service Above Self” and it is a group of professionals who believe in committing to service. They visit Caring for Friends’ Northeast Philadelphia warehouse two weekends a month to pick up food and deliver it to 30-40 homebound seniors in North and West Philly, as well as several people in MontCo and Bucks. They have also donated and purchased needed food items, volunteered in the warehouse cooking meals, and donated money towards the purchase of a freezer which stocks meals for homebound seniors, veterans, and those with disabilities.
  • Caring Faith-Based Organization of the Year: Pastor Luisa and Iglacia de Milagro. Pastor Luisa has worked with CFF for three years, bringing food and friendship to unserved people in the North Philadelphia community six days a week … and she is “on call” on Sundays, as well. She also delivers food to seniors’ homes, provides grocery bags to her congregation, and distributes food and toiletries – and ministers to – about 300 people facing homelessness in Kensignton each month.
  • Caring Kitchen Award: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Part of the mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is to contribute to community through service. For the past five years, the group has been volunteering up to four times a week in the warehouse kitchen making meals, sandwiches for people experiencing homelessness, and snack bags for kids in need. Last year, they also donated a 40,000 pounds of much-needed dry goods.
  • Caring Kitchen Volunteers: John and Rose Kirby. John, a VP at Philadelphia Insurance Company, is the co-leader of the Monday and Tuesday night volunteer shifts in the CFF kitchen. He has recruited colleagues, family, friends, and others to join him, including his mother, who volunteers with him every Monday night; they both reside in Bensalem. Since Covid, the Monday and Tuesday night groups have made over 200,000 meals for homebound people. John’s passion is cooking and helping others and he believes “there is no better way to combine the two than volunteering Monday and Tuesday evenings in the kitchen at Caring for Friends.”

 

The full list of awardees includes:

  • Caring Driver of the Year: Chris Wilson at Seven Mile Road Church, Northeast Philadelphia. Chris picks up meals every two weeks to deliver to 20 homebound people.
  • Caring Visitor of the Year: Jeff Frazier. Jeff currently delivers meals to 22 people throughout Montgomery, Bucks, and Philadelphia counties. He was initially connected to CFF as part of the Glenside Rotary Saturday team, and has since committed to deliver one day a week. 
  • Caring Cooking Church of the Year: St. Martin of Tours, New Hope, Bucks County. For the past eight years, St Martin of Tours has been one of – if not the top — senior meals partner, making and donating thousands of meals, as well as providing monetary donations to support neighbors in need.
  • Caring School of the Year: New Foundations Charter School, a k-12 school in the Northeast,made sandwiches, volunteered, interned, and donated to help neighbors in need last year.
  • Caring Office Volunteer: Marianne Bonner. From Northeast Philadelphia, Marianne works in the office at least three days a week and helps with the phones, mailings, and special projects. Since she started volunteering in June of 2021, she has volunteered 400 hours.
  • Caring Snack Room Volunteer: Philip Zucker. A resident of the Northeast, Philip has volunteered almost 700 hours since he began working with CFF in 2020. He helps out packing snack bags three days a week, and also trains people in the snack bag room. 
  • Caring Warehouse Volunteer: Daniel Coonan. Daniel, a Northeast Philadelphia resident, volunteers every week with St. Vincent de Paul in Germantown. He recruits and runs the Thursday shift. He also facilitates meal production by delivering trays to St. Katherine of Siena Church and bringing meals back to the Northeast warehouse.

CFF seeks volunteers to help make 100,000 extra meals a month for families and individuals struggling due to inflation. To learn more or sign up for a shift, visit: www.caringforfriends.org.

For more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact Stef Arck-Baynes, Managing Director of Communications, at 917-710-1901.

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