Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon’s Northeast Emergency Food Program (NEFP) shattered records in 2020. Economic fallout from the COVID pandemic exponentially increased the need for supplemental food. Between March 2020 and May 2021, we distributed 40 million pounds of food to nearly 800,000 people. These accomplishments have been made possible by the help of more than 300 new volunteers—over 70 of whom contributed more than 100 hours each during the pandemic.
At the core of NEFP’s operations is people. You can’t serve that much food without hands to carry it and smiles as it’s passed out, even if the smiles are hidden behind masks. Program Manager A’Jay Scipio says that the food is important—but in the end, “It’s the people.” #wearenefp
In 2020, 4,391 EMO volunteers served over 493,407 individuals
One of NEFP’s most vibrant and consistent volunteers is a woman named
Sylvia Waymire. She has been volunteering at NEFP for several years and has become a regular presence onsite three to four days a week, often for eight hours at a time.
After retiring, Sylvia was looking for a way to remain engaged and connected to her community. She says, “It gives me something to do instead of just sitting around at home feeling sorry for myself, as we all do now and then.” She first discovered NEFP as a client and was eventually invited to become a volunteer. She hasn’t looked back.
Sylvia says, “I know how to do everything at NEFP, so I just help out where I’m needed.” She helps with food distribution, cleaning and even knows how to manage the traffic. One of her most loved roles is gardening on the grounds of Luther Memorial, the small church that hosts NEFP in northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood.
Sylvia gave 2,067 hours of her time during the pandemic—the most hours of any NEFP volunteer. She was awarded the “President’s Volunteer Service Award” on July 23, 2021.