They say that our true nature is revealed during times of crisis. And while some stories of selfishness and hoarding filled our newsfeeds at the start of the pandemic, there were many more stories of selfless acts of help, caring, sacrifice and service.
Jean Louis’ story is a perfect example.
Like so many others, he lost his job and had to leave school due to the pandemic. But this young man didn’t think only of himself in the midst of this crisis. His immediate thoughts were of the needs of the children and families in the Mattapan neighborhood where Jean lives—the people who have been his neighbors for the last 10 years.
When a friend told him about the Food Bank’s YMCA distribution program, Jean didn’t reach out to them only for himself, he inquired about the possibility of having enough food delivered for all of his neighbors, too. And the YMCA was happy to help.
Jean started receiving and distributing food on Mondays and Wednesdays—100 bags on Monday and 50 bags on Wednesday. The bags contained grocery items like rice, pasta, oatmeal, a variety of canned goods and fresh fruit, including oranges, apples, bananas and mangos.
Today, the number of bags delivered to him each week has doubled to 200 bags on Mondays and 100 on Wednesdays, as Jean now distributes food to more than 20 families in his neighborhood. He said, “In the beginning, I wasn’t sure I could do it. But it’s easier now. And it’s happening every week.”
One of the incredible outcomes of Jean’s work to feed his neighbors, in addition to the food itself, is the resulting community that has flourished.
“It’s been really good for the neighborhood. We’ve formed a strong, safe community around this food. We look out for each other,” Jean said.
One of Jean’s neighbors is a single mother with a young son. She says, “I can barely cover the rent, so the food is a tremendous help. I come for bags on Mondays and Wednesdays every week. My son especially loves the bananas.”
Jean has been living on his savings since his unemployment benefits ran out last September. He loves computers and actually built his own. He is hoping to return to school and enter a computer science program once he lands back on his feet.
When asked what he would like to say to kind donors like you, Jean said, “Keep doing what you are doing. It’s an incredible help. You are changing so many lives.”
Thank you for your compassion and generosity. You are not only helping us feed so many of our neighbors facing hunger, you are also helping to build stronger communities. And stronger communities lead to a healthier future for everyone.