- Published: 23 Apr 2018
"Every minute and every item donated helps someone, somewhere."
"As a middle class family of five, we struggle sometimes to get assistance." said Jessica Bigelow Leary a dedicated volunteer at Margaret’s Pantry. "My family either makes too much or not enough—we’re right on the cusp. Two years ago we were selected as one of the first Veteran families through Revitalize CDC for a home makeover and through that experience we were introduced to Providence Ministries. We then participated in the annual adopt-a-family holiday program here at Providence Ministries where my children received Christmas gifts and food enough for our holiday meal.
As a way to give back, Jessica began volunteering at Margaret’s Pantry. She has really enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside long-time Pantry Manager Brenda Lamagdeleine and other volunteers and misses it when she’s not there.
In addition to leading her family as a rock star mom and wife, Jessica is also a pursuing her degree in special needs education at Holyoke Community College. She truly believes that there is always some way she can contribute to her Holyoke community. "When I’m out and about I tell folks like me, in the middle class, about Margaret’s Pantry as a tremendous resource. Since my family has been members of the Pantry, I am not longer stressing about what we’re going to eat; we have not gone hungry." Jessica also added the dignity she felt coming to the pantry; she recalls Brenda telling her "…it’s no one’s business what you make, if you are in need we are here for you."
Jessica brings her husband and son to volunteer with her and encourages others to become more involved; to host food drives beyond just Thanksgiving and Christmas. While the physical size of the pantry is small, the heart of its mission is huge and our volunteers, like Jessica, make it such. Jessica says, "There are always things to organize, grocery bags to pack and people to feed." When asked what Jessica would share with others about her experience, she stated simply: "Every minute and every item donated helps someone, somewhere."
Recently, Jessica stepped forward to run the pantry during Brenda’s medical leave. Because of Jessica’s compassionate care for others, the pantry doors remained opened and folks were fed.
Compassion is within all of us and it surely dwells in the heart of Jessica.
- Published: 17 Apr 2018
"Everyone has value, recovery happens through relationships, don’t give up, you can do this. Asking for help epitomizes strength and resiliency."
Compassion is within all of us. Michael is one shining example of leading from compassion within.
Born in Holyoke and raised in East Longmeadow, Lewis is an esteemed recovery coach, recovery coach supervisor and Bureau of Substance Abuse Services facilitator who respects all pathways to recovery. Lewis recently celebrated 29 years of sobriety and is passionate about supporting people towards their own recovery and wellness. In addition, he is a proud veteran and former instructor in the United States Marine Corps, serving for 8 years.
Recognized as a community advocate, bridge builder, and leader, Lewis fosters the peer support model of recovery and serves in various roles; including Director of Housing at Providence Ministries, Veterans Advocate and a facilitator for The Nurturing Fathers men’s group. His lived experience in recovery has shaped the person he is today. He speaks openly about his childhood trauma of prejudice from both Black and White groups as well as his PTSD from active duty in the military. “After all this time missteps can still happen” he explains, “doing the next right thing in stressful situations is key to staying on track with your recovery. There are no off days on this journey. It’s critically important to find what works best for you and to have circles of support nearby.”
For Michael that circle includes his life partner, Michelle and his faith. He also continues to be inspired by his grandmother; he recalls her daily compassion in action, her tenacity to overcome barriers and blaze trails as the first African American nurse at Holyoke Hospital.
Of being Director of Housing Lewis shares, “I am blessed, honored and excited to be part of the excellent work of Providence Ministries. I believe that recovery and wellness happens in relationship and PM’s philosophy is a wonderful match.”
- Written by security
- Published: 01 Jun 2015
- Written by security
- Published: 14 May 2015
"Golf Fore Food" Join Providence Ministries in the fight against hunger! Wyckoff Country Club will host the 19th Annual Women's Golf Tournament. Call 536-9109 or email email@example.com to play or sponsor this event.
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