Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 04-01-2021

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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4 CUMBERLAND APRIL 1-7, 2021 | VALLEY BREEZE | CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION Meditate for inner peace at Cumberland Library April 8 CUMBERLAND – Join the Cumberland Public Library on Zoom on Thursday, April 8, at 7 p.m. to learn how to maximize the benefits of meditation for inner peace. Arlene Samsel will lead the workshop. Registration is required; register by 6 p.m. on April 8. For more information, visit www. or call 401- 333-2552, ext. 2. PETER and JACK MARDO, above left, volunteer with Cumberland's senior lunch delivery program, with Senior Center Director MIKE CRAWLEY last July. Above right, ABBY, left, and AMY DALEY, also volunteers with the Cumberland senior lunch deliv- ery program stand with some of their deliveries last June. CUMBERLAND – One of the bright spots about living through the pandemic (and there aren't many), according to Sarah King, has been Cumberland's lunch delivery pro- gram, where a group of volunteers have been bringing meals to senior citizens in town since March of last year. "It shows you that people step up when needed," King, Cumberland's community outreach coordinator, told The Breeze. "The community proves what it's really about when (times are) tough." Before the pandemic began, the Cumberland Senior Center, 1464 Diamond Hill Road, would pro- vide lunches for seniors through a federal congregate meal program, receiving meals from Aging Well in Woonsocket, King said. Once the Senior Center closed due to the pandemic, volunteers started deliver- ing those meals to seniors in town, some directly to their homes and the majority to senior housing com- plexes, including Cumberland Manor and Chimney Hill. Meals are delivered Monday through Friday, and at the height of the program, King said, about 10 vol- unteers were delivering hundreds of meals to seniors. The first couple of weeks of the program were the most daunting, King said, but it was incredible to see the number of people pitching in to help. She said she and Mayor Jeff Mutter delivered meals a couple of times together, and she'll never forget the appreciation the seniors showed. "I've never seen people so happy to get a sandwich in my life," she said of seniors' reactions. But the program goes beyond providing food for people in need, she said. It's built community. "I think people, and seniors especially, were craving con- nection and craving interaction with people … someone willing to stop and say hello and ask how they're doing," she said. Volunteers have formed connec- tions with seniors, some asking King if someone can check in on a senior if they haven't seen them in a couple of days, she said. "Volunteers have gotten to know seniors … It's cool to see over time how much more it's become than just a lunchtime drop-off." She added that she loves that some parents have taken their children with them volunteering, and that some of the children made seniors cards for Thanksgiving and Christmas. "It's become a lot bigger than a lunch," she said. While Senior Center staff bags and counts the lunches, volunteers arrive to pick up and deliver the meals, King said. Anyone interested in vol- unteering can email her at sking@ . Support from the community has been consistent over the past year, with groups such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Rhode Island and the R.I. Community Food Bank donating meals to the program. King said she has had to do very little out- reach with this program, noting that people have been contacting her ask- ing how they can get involved. For example, members of Cumberland Girl Scout Troop 310 recently hosted a fundraiser and provided more than 200 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to the program. John Johnson, organizer of the town's Happy Basket program, also opened up his stockpile of nonperish- Cumberland's senior lunch delivery program about much more than food By MELANIE THIBEAULT Valley Breeze Staff Writer got a news tip? Call 401-334-9555, ext. 122 or e-mail it to Continues on next page ABOUT US The Valley Breeze is a locally owned newspaper Office location: 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Suite #204, Lincoln, RI 02865 Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Closed weekends and holidays. Call us: 401-334-9555 Fax: 401-334-9994 Online: READER SERVICES DO YOU HAVE A STORY IDEA? Contact Managing Editor Ethan Shorey at or call 401-334-9555, ext. 130. 24-hour, 7-day voice mail. 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