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Food for the body, kindness for the heart, services for life, Community Solutions volunteers at May Dugan Center

July 29, 2019
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At Community Solutions, our team researches and writes prolifically about hunger, food deserts, critical services food banks or hunger centers offer and the public funding that’s needed to meet the basic need for nutritious food.  

It’s one thing to read or write about it. It’s an entirely different thing to hand donated food to people in need. That’s what our board and staff did Wednesday.

 It’s one thing to read or write about it. It’s an entirely different thing to hand donated food to people in need.

Once a year, we help a partner organization in its efforts to provide direct services in the community. Wednesday, we joined staff and volunteers to distribute food and clothing at the May Dugan Center (MDC) on Cleveland’s near west side.  

The MDC offers a range of services to help people overcome socio-economic disadvantages with both immediate and long-term benefits. MDC’s Food, Clothing & Fresh Produce program is offered the fourth Wednesday of each month, fresh produce offered each second Wednesday, in collaboration with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland. Last year, more than 5,000 people were served just by this one program. Wednesday, almost 300 came.

 One woman came for food and had her blood pressure taken while waiting; it was so high that she needed to be taken to the hospital…but she wanted to be sure to get her family’s food first.

Who were the people we saw? They were young and old; men and women; individuals and families; white, black, Latino and Asian. Some were cheerful and others were so weighed down by life’s anxieties that their smile couldn’t quite reach their eyes. Some appeared embarrassed to be there asking for food; they didn’t even want to look up. One woman came for food and had her blood pressure taken while waiting; it was so high that she needed to be taken to the hospital…but she wanted to be sure to get her family’s food first.  

With all that diversity, what did they have in common? First, a basic human need: food for themselves and their families. Second, gratitude that someone—the organization, the staff, the volunteers—cared enough to help; every person who came through the line thanked us, some in a hearty voice, others in a whisper. Third, personal dignity; the program is designed to dignify each individual while offering needed help.  

For them, it was a morning of waiting. They waited for the doors to open. They waited in the lobby to get a number and then waited to register. They waited with bags, boxes and carts to walk slowly along the line of tables and choose what they wanted to take home: one watermelon, two cantaloupes, a bag of potatoes, cabbage, yams, grapes, apples. They waited for family members and friends. They waited for rides or they waited for a bus. But what they received was worth the wait—food to nourish the body, kindness to nourish the heart and, in many cases, services and information needed to make healthy life choices and changes.  

 But what they received was worth the wait—food to nourish the body, kindness to nourish the heart and, in many cases, services and information needed to make healthy life choices and changes.

Would you like to help? There are several ways: monthly food/clothing/produce program, landscaping, tutoring, painting, holiday decorating, serving as receptionist, and more.  

What will you gain from the experience? Notice some thoughts from our team:

  • Today's experience renewed my belief in the goodness, kindness and generosity of the social service agencies in the area with the sense that through collective efforts we all can help our neighbors.
  • I found the experience emotionally rewarding and made me think, as I often do, that I would like to be spending more of my days doing this and fewer of my days doing legal work.
  • It is a good feeling knowing that my volunteer efforts helped, in a small way, many individuals who are struggling with basic human needs, and perhaps bring momentary happiness and relief!
  • It was refreshing to be “on the ground” doing something tangible to serve people from all walks of life – helping them meet one of their most basic needs, fresh food.
  • I was inspired by the dignity of the people who were served.They also have a wish list for their clients that includes:
  • Folders, binders, paper
  • Pens, pencils, highlighters
  • TI 30XS-Multiview calculators
  • Large print bingo games
  • Coloring books for adults
  • Art/craft supplies
  • Diapers and formula
  • Baby clothes & products
  • Men, women & children’s winter clothing items
  • Basic hygiene products (must be unopened)If you or your family, group or organization would like to make a donation or spend some time volunteering, please visit May Dugan’s website or contact MDC at 216-631-5800.
 The work of the May Dugan Center is so exceptional that Community Solutions and the Cleveland Foundation presented staff with the $25,000 Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award last year.

The work of the May Dugan Center is so exceptional that Community Solutions and the Cleveland Foundation presented staff with the $25,000 Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award last year. Find out who will win this year’s award by attending the 2019 Celebration of Human Services on October 25. More information will be shared soon.  

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