Caregivers Grocery Project: Greater Boston, MA
Since September 2019, the Sathya Sai Centers of the Greater Boston area—Boston, Chelmsford, Norwood, and Northborough—have been collaborating with the Lowell General Hospital (LGH) Social Work Department to support some of the families of cancer patients at the Lowell General Hospital.
The LGH social workers identify low-income families in crisis who are struggling to put food on the table while dealing with paying rent and high medical expenses. Most of these families are already on Food Stamps and Medicaid, but run out of food stamps by the middle of each month. Others are waiting to be approved to get into State-sponsored programs. The goal of the project is to provide a week’s worth of groceries, once every month, to help these families tide over until the following month. This gives them one less thing to worry about during this critical time.
The initial inspiration for the project was derived from Sathya Sai Baba’s Grama Seva (Rural Village Service). The Sai volunteers of the Greater Boston area wanted to do a similar public outreach and serve the poorer families in their community. The LGH Social Work Department provides them with a list of basic supplies that the recipient families need. Each Sai family then purchase about $75 worth of groceries and supplies for their assigned patient family, which include hygiene supplies, frozen food, canned food, cleaning supplies and snacks. The Sai family then deliver these items to the recipients on the third weekend of each month. Each Sai Center supports about 3 to 5 families, for a total of 25 families between all 4 Centers.
This project has been a joyful experience for both the volunteer and the recipient families. Volunteers relish the opportunity to serve in a project modeled after Grama Seva. They are touched and humbled to see the tears of gratitude in the eyes of the recipient families. Even the children of Sai volunteers join their parents with great enthusiasm in purchasing, bagging and delivering the groceries to the recipients.
The recipients, in turn, have expressed an immense sense of thankfulness for the help they have received during a critical phase in their lives. Mrs. Heidi Parker, the Oncology social worker, stated, “The patients and their families have been totally overwhelmed and extremely appreciative of the amount and quality of food that they have received. Indeed, they have been astounded by it. And I have got nothing but positive feedback.”
This project has been supported by the Sai volunteers of the Greater Boston area for over nine months now and is continuing during the current Covid-19 virus pandemic with online purchases and deliveries.