Back in March 2020, I was working full time as a freelance documentary producer and was also volunteering on the weekends at Tree House Humane Society. When COVID-19 hit, not only did my hours of work significantly scale back for a while, but also, Tree House stopped doing in person volunteering. With a lot of new time on my hands and the world seemingly falling down around us all, I wanted to do something that would both help me with the stress and anxiety of lockdown and, more importantly, do something that could make a small yet meaningful impact in this moment of existential uncertainty. With the devastating economic effects of the pandemic increasing our already-too-high food insecurity, once I found out about all the volunteer opportunities at Lakeview Pantry, I quickly signed up to volunteer.
Now, a year and a half later, even as my filmmaking work has returned to somewhat normal levels and I’m back volunteering at Tree House, my time gleaning at The Hub is one of my favorite parts of my week. While I’ve worked doing distribution at Sheridan and La Casa Norte and love that client-facing work, there is something just so special about gleaning shifts at The Hub. Whether it’s a busy day jumping from frozen food to deli to bread to all sorts of produce, or if I spend 4 hours carefully gleaning through nothing but tens of thousands of blueberries, being at The Hub is a chance for personal mindfulness and meditation while also helping ensure that our Chicago friends and neighbors do not go hungry. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the staff and other volunteers at The Hub are such wonderful people to spend a morning or afternoon with (looking at you Katie, Dan, Debbie, Sharon, Noel, JC, and so many more)!
“My time gleaning at The Hub is one of my favorite parts of my week.”
Also, as a documentarian, I would be remiss to not recommend one of my favorite documentaries of all time and another big reason why I became interested in volunteering at The Hub: Agnès Varda’s The Gleaners and I. While it’s not exactly a 1:1 of what we do, I’m sure it will be deeply resonant for many of you and remind you why we do what we do at Lakeview Pantry.