DESK Recognizes and Awards Dedicated Volunteers at Annual Soup Night
The Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen in New Haven, CT, experienced a landmark year during 2007. With operations expanding, DESK underwent major renovations to its kitchen and facilities in the basement of the Center Church on the Green. Providing nightly dinners, weekly food pantry openings, and food bags and bagged lunches for the poor and working poor, DESK easily serves up to 1000 people each week. This past year, attendance at nightly dinners remained high during fall and winter, even though past years have shown summer to be the busiest time. With the increasing need and demand for DESK’s services, the many individuals and groups that volunteer to help DESK have similarly increased in their efforts to ensure that DESK maintain its high level of capacity.
On Sunday, April 6, the Unitarian Society in Hamden hosted the Annual DESK Soup Night, bringing people from the community as well as nearby schools and universities, including Quinnipiac, Yale, and Southern CT State Universities. Local restaurants and individuals donated food for all in attendance, and the local chapters of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity helped to set up and serve the meal. Executive Director Diana Richter and Director of Operations Jeanne Marie May presented the dedicated volunteers and groups with awards in recognition of their service to DESK, and by extension, to the needy throughout the New Haven community.
Awards were presented to several groups and individuals, including a collaboration of local synagogues that serves DESK dinners on Sunday nights throughout the academic year. Together, this collection of synagogues, including Congregation Or Shalom, Temple Emmanuel, Temple Beth Shalom, Yale Hillel and Temple Beth David, make DESK one of only a handful of kosher soup kitchens nationwide. The Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale hosts these Sunday night DESK dinners, and Amy Aaland of the Center received a special award for her dedication to maintaining smooth operations behind the scenes. Rabbi James Ponet, of the Slifka Center, also blessed the evening meal.
Several local schools and student groups received special recognition, including students and student groups from Yale University. The International Silat Federation of America at Yale was given an award in recognition of its consistency in supporting DESK on a regular basis. Eliza Schafler, a co-coordinator of Yale’s Dwight Hall, the umbrella organization for community service organizations on campus, received a special recognition for her personal contributions to DESK, along with Jane Levy, co-coordinator of the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action
Project (YHHAP). Eliza also accepted an award on behalf of the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project, one of the many member groups of the Dwight Hall. In addition, the Foote School, Hamden Hall School, and local university chapters of the Alpha Phi Omega and Delta Epsilon Omega fraternities all received special recognition and awards for their service during 2007.
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Henry Ford, a dedicated and dependable volunteer at DESK on a daily basis, received the Volunteer of the Year award, a new award for this year. Another new award was given in honor of Lynne Valentine, a teacher at the Foote School, who is retiring this year after having spent the last several years instilling in her students the desire to serve others. The new award has been named the Valentine Award for Young Humanitarians, and the Inaugural Award was given to several Foote School students. Diana Richter and Jeanne Marie May also recognized the members of the DESK Board of Directors, the New Haven County Bar Association, and Jeff Glagowsky, who single-handedly suggested and then executed one of the most successful food drives of 2007: Zombie Fest.
DESK continues to operate on a daily basis, and to accept help from volunteers in many forms, whether through the donation of goods or services, or time spent preparing and serving meals at the Soup Kitchen. DESK will continue delivering awards in recognition for those who served in 2007, with the upcoming Bingham Awards for Yale undergraduates, at Dwight Hall on Wednesday April 9 at 4:30pm. Another fundraiser takes place this coming weekend, with the Yale Bellydancing Society donating all proceeds from their Annual Gala Dance Show to DESK. The show, “Hips Against Hunger” runs Thursday and Friday at 9pm, and Saturday at 7pm, at the Yale Off-Broadway Theater.
ISFA@Yale would like to extend special thanks to Executive Director Diana Richter and Director of Operations Jeanne Marie May of DESK, for their continual and ongoing support of the New Haven community and especially those in need.
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