By: Alicia Venter
Services of the Underserved (S:US) hosted a food drive in South Ozone Park this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, volunteering to collect over 50 bags of nonperishable goods, fruits and vegetables for families within their supported behavioral health housing units in Brooklyn and the Bronx.
Approximately 15 volunteers — many workers of S:US who were using their day off to provide this service — could be seen in the basement of the South Ozone Park S:US center bagging food in whatever bag they could find.
Planning to collect food to provide 40 families with food, they soon realized that the food collected that week surpassed that number.
With only 40 bags with the S:US logo brought to the event, the volunteers got creative. Foodtown bags, Target bags and boxes were quickly found within the center to be used collecting food.
Within the hour of the food drive starting, over 50 bags — or boxes — could be seen collected by the volunteers. Over 1,000 pounds of food and other items were collected and distributed to families served at two supportive housing programs the same day.
S:US is “all about creating opportunities for folks who are having challenges,” said S:US CEO Jorge R. Petit at the collection Monday, where he was helping in the collection. “We provide an array of services that actually help people on their road to recovery and we’re part of their journey to lead lives that are full of purpose.”
Believing in service, Petit described S:US as a platform for which people can provide others with that which they take for granted: food, security and a roof over their head.
There are numerous opportunities to get involved with S:US, including volunteering and donation. Among the different ways people can get involved include working at urban farms, teaching someone how to search for a job and even lead a yoga class.
“We really look at every day [as] doing a service for people,” said Monica Santos, Chief Program Officer at SUS, who was among the volunteers on Monday. “We help New Yorkers all over the city — ones with mental illness, behavioral health needs, homeless, veterans… and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
The Ozone Park Center, located at 115-70 Lefferts Blvd, is a day program, with community residences in the area. People with developmental disabilities come during the day, and among the services provided by the location are two food fridges and a lending library.
“At the heart of what we do at S:US is a firm commitment to righting the disparities caused by racial discrimination, bias and health inequity and eradicating these within our practices and programs to help us move towards true social justice,” the S:US website stated.
As stated on their website, the mission of S:US is to “drive scalable solutions to transform the lives of people with disabilities, people in poverty and people facing homelessness: solutions that contribute to righting societal imbalances.”
For more information on the services provided by S:US, visit www.sus.org/.