This past March Kim Row, Christian Educator for children and youth at Guilford Park Presbyterian, brought her youth group to BackPack Beginnings headquarters to help unload the food A Simple Gesture’s volunteers had gathered. It was a beautiful morning and the youth were working hard to move and organize donated food. Little did they know in just a few weeks church services would be canceled and youth meetings would be held online indefinitely. It felt like a good time to catch up with her and find out her thoughts on the pandemic and the state of hunger in America.
How are you doing? Do you miss the kids you ministered to? How different is it doing meetings on Zoom?
Personally, I am doing okay and thankful that I still have a job. I am working mostly from home and go into the church 2 days a week. I miss everyone, but mostly the children and youth. My job is mostly in relation to the children and youth and their families. Zoom meetings are tough but they are my saving grace. I can see some faces and hear their voices, and they can see and hear me. Of course, the limitations are hard. We are not together. A casual discussion is harder.
In the past did your youth group regularly volunteer with A Simple Gesture? If so, why volunteer with A Simple Gesture?
Volunteering at A Simple Gesture was a consistent part of our formation curriculum before Covid-19. Service is as important in our program as worship, fellowship, and study. Helping unload cars of food and then filling the warehouse was a way everyone could participate from third graders to seniors. Our church encourages families to participate in A Simple Gesture, so this was a natural part of learning some of what that organization does in our community.
This pandemic has really shown how many Americans are working paycheck to paycheck and need aid when that paycheck is gone. How do you feel when you watch the news and see the lines of people waiting for food assistance?
It is really hard to see. It could be any of us in that line. With restrictions on moving about and in-person help it makes it even harder to help in any meaningful way. We have food drives, but it doesn’t seem like enough. Some of our families are not comfortable helping in person and some places are not comfortable with strangers coming to help. We want everyone to stay safe and that is interfering with our desire to help. I am grateful for organizations like A Simple Gesture that continue to help secure the food needed for our community. We are encouraging our families to continue to participate and make monetary donations as well if they can. It is amazing to see the number of community members and organizations finding new ways to help families.
How do you think the pandemic has changed Greensboro?
We have become innovators. I see new ways to help and new ideas every day. I am strengthened by neighbors helping neighbors. Our health care workers are seen as the heroes they truly are. Teachers are working hard, and I hope valued more than ever to keep our children engaged and learning. I think this time will force us to define who we want to be.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do when church services are resumed?
Be there to greet everyone! It will be hard until we can hug and shake hands but at least we can share a smile. I am ready to hear the church alive with the regular sounds of fellowship and worship. When that happens, you will also find us on Saturday morning unloading cars of food for A Simple Gesture.