PAULA & ALICIA
Sisters Alicia Lakomski and Paula Maher wanted to honor the memory of their late mother, Kathleen, who was a faithful volunteer in the community. As employees of Yale University, Alicia and Paula heard about United Way’s summer Neighborhood Pantry and wanted to get involved. Not only was the pantry held at the church and school their mother attended, but the next date to volunteer was on her birthday. This was the perfect opportunity to carry on Kathleen’s legacy.
In the midst of their grief over the recent passing of their mother, Alicia and Paula found that volunteering allowed them to experience a sense of peace and joy. “For the two hours I’m here, I don’t feel like I’m grieving as much,” stated Alicia. “It takes you out of yourself because of what you’re doing for other people.”
Not only did the sisters find relief from their grief through volunteering, but it also provided the opportunity for them to connect with the community in a deeper way. As they volunteered with the Neighborhood Pantry for five consecutive weeks, they built relationships with those who came to the pantry. “This is in Yale’s backyard,” Alicia noted. “It’s nice to have a connection with people in your community like that – showing them that you care.”
1 in 8 families in our region struggle with hunger. Alicia and Paula found this statistic heart-wrenching when they saw the reality of it in person. “When it’s in your face, it is different than hearing about it or reading about it. When people are with you, your compassion definitely comes out for them,” said Alicia. “There were days it was 100 degrees outside and people were waiting in line for food. That tells you a story.”
United Way loves to connect those who desire to get involved with the right opportunity. “Volunteering doesn’t mean that you have to give up an 8 hour day. You can do this and work it into your schedule,” stated Paula. “United Way makes it easy. I find it to be very easy to sign up and everyone is welcoming.”