An Update on Our Operations: Thank You For Keeping Our Meals Going!

It has been a month since our last update, where we made changes to our operations, in response to Covid-19. We implemented extra precautions to protect the health and safety of our staff, volunteers, and clients. We adapted our daily meal program to serve meals to-go, just outside our building. We reduced the number of volunteers serving, and as CDC and the Governor provided additional guidance, we adapted the program accordingly. Our Resource Center remains open from 3-6 PM every weekday to provide essential items, mailing service, and other crucial assistance to our guests and clients. For the most updated hours of our operations, please visit the ‘Services’ page on our website, or check out our blog post.

The community stepped up in a spectacular way to support our operation, with financial support, in-kind support, and with the gift of their time. We have formed partnerships with local organizations such as Silver Spring Cares, neighborhood restaurants, and other food service providers. More than 100 volunteers have supported our meals and Resource Center programs. Volunteers are making masks for us at a rapid pace, allowing us to maintain the safety of everyone engaging in our programs, including the clients. Anything we have needed, the community has responded. On behalf of everyone we serve, THANK YOU!

Our lunch bags prepared for the first to-go meal

Our guests lined up outside of the building to receive to-go lunch bags before social distancing guidelines were put into place

In the past month, we have witnessed an increase in the need for our services. We are now serving an average of 320 meals per day, and providing meals for distribution outside of our facility. We anticipate the numbers to grow as unemployment rises all over the Country. In this challenging time, we are grateful and honored to still be able to continue providing essential services and serving our community in need. 

As an organization, we are also being impacted economically by the pandemic. There is an increase in unplanned expenses for purchasing PPEs and implementing additional cleaning services throughout the entire building. The number has gone up to over $18,000. Additionally, we postponed our major fundraising spring event, “From Garden to Table.”

To support our efforts, our community mobilized quickly to make sandwiches, collect items we needed like forks and spoons, and purchased items from our Amazon Wish List such as the critical to-go containers, to keep us fully prepared to serve. As of today, over 50 neighbors have provided a donation from our Amazon Wish List, amounting to a value of over $5,000. On top of that, we also received a mammoth donation of 8,100 to-go containers, all thanks to Board Vice-Chair, Jon Alterman, who solicited it from an anonymous friend in the packaging industry. Thanks, Jon and your friend, for the amazing generosity!

Our storage room is filled with items from our Amazon wish list

Over 8,000 to-go containers!

We wish to thank our supporters and donors — everyone who has given during this time, whether it is in the form of monetary or in-kind donations. We thank those who help us by simply spreading the word about our mission and goals as well. Without your crucial support, we would not be able to continue our programs in the same reliable fashion. If there is anything that we have learned so far during this pandemic, it is the fact that we are fortunate to have a supportive, compassionate, and generous community. Thank you for supporting Shepherd’s Table! 

A group of friends dropped off in-kind donations to us

In-kind donation of essential items from the management of Westfield Wheaton

As a part of our effort in protecting the health and safety of our community, we make sure that our volunteers have face masks and gloves on when they are working at Shepherd’s Table. Additionally, we provide those to our volunteers as needed. When we received a cancellation on our order for face masks on Amazon, we were worried that we would not be able to ensure our volunteers’ safety as our supplies came closer to depletion. Fortunately, our community immediately came together when they learned about the shortage and created over 100 reusable cloth masks for us.

Reusable cloth masks made for us by our amazing supporters

Our team was completely touched and overwhelmed with gratitude when we received these well-made cloth masks. They were immediately distributed among our staff and volunteers, who did not have their own face masks at the time. We wish to thank everyone for dedicating their time and making these masks for us. Your support is incredible!  

Our team is so happy with the cloth masks!

Moving forward, we hope that our supporters can continue helping us with our supplies of face masks. We are still in need of more since we are handing face masks out to our meal guests and clients, who do not have access to PPE. Once again, thank you for choosing to support us in this challenging time. There are not enough words to describe how thankful we are for YOU. Thank you for helping to protect those in need at this critical time!

We are also very grateful for our partnership with Silver Spring Cares, who have extended their help to us in this challenging time. Not only do they offer to pick up from neighbors who cannot leave their homes, but they have also organized and coordinated a “Neighborhood Ambassador” program to collect in-kind donations from different local neighborhoods for us every single day. Thank you, to our friends at Silver Spring Cares and superstar volunteer Lisa Silverman, for your incredible support and help! 

During this time, we have also extended help to our neighboring restaurants, who are going through changes in their operations and facing closures. On March 24th, we launched our “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” initiative. With every donation made to the initiative, we have been purchasing meals from our partnering restaurants and serving them in our daily meal program.  

The idea was inspired by one of our amazing volunteers, Joanne, who sponsored a brunch meal by purchasing baked ziti with chicken, green salad, and bread from Mamma Lucia’s — a local restaurant in Silver Spring. The meal was delicious, and our meal guests absolutely loved it. For Joanne, it was necessary to give back. “I have a brother experiencing homelessness, and I know it could happen to anyone,” she shared, “In times of need like this, I believe we should all share and give back when we can.”  

So far, the initiative has been a major success, as we have raised over $21,000 since the launch. We have served multiple meals with food purchased from different local restaurants, such as Eggspectation, El Golfo, Mamma Lucia’s, Chick-Fil-A, Big Greek Café, and Middle Eastern Cuisine. We are continuing to add restaurants to the list. This has helped us tremendously in covering the cost for our meals and is also helping our partnering restaurants keep their businesses going in this time of uncertainty.  

Our brunch on April 1st, with signature pancakes, potatoes, and sausages from Eggspectation

We served pupusas, beans and rice purchased from El Golfo for our brunch on April 6th

Handing out sandwiches from Chick-Fil-A, with potatoes from Big Greek Cafe for our dinner on April 8th

Pizzas and salad purchased from Mamma Lucia’s for our dinner on April 10th

We are continuing to add more restaurants to our list of partners. If you are looking for a way to support Shepherd’s Table and local restaurants, while still staying indoors and staying safe, please consider donating to our “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” initiative today. You can visit our blog post for more information or visit our donation page to support the initiative. 

Finally, we want to thank every single one of our volunteers, who play a crucial part in making our programs possible every day. For those who still come in to help prepare meals and provide essential resources to our community, we are thankful for your dedication and kindness. We know that you are putting yourself at risk to help others, as safely as you can, and we are immensely grateful for your service. For our volunteers who are staying at home and are unable to come in, we appreciate that you are keeping us in your prayers and helping us in other ways. We look forward to seeing everyone again once this is all over. In the meantime, please stay indoors, stay safe, and stay healthy! 

Our amazing volunteers, and many more that are not pictured. Thank you!

To our community, we would like to share our favorite quote of Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” If you are ever in need of anything, you can always reach out to us directly. Shepherd’s Table is, and will always be, here to help and serve. We are in this together, and together, we will overcome this!

Thank you!


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