Food Runners

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Simple Act

by Ossie Gomez, Volunteer
Regular Run, Thursdays
Donors: Peet’s Coffee, Whole Foods and Hilton Hotel
Recipient: Center for Young Women’s Development (CYWD) – Now known as the Young Women’s Freedom Center

This is my story of how the simple act of volunteering for Food Runners developed into a very fulfilling relationship with the recipient organization, the Center for Young Women’s Development (CYWD).

On my first Run to CYWD, I brought a large serving of Tofu from Whole Foods.  Seeing the look of trepidation on the face of the young woman who greeted me, I called over to a passing Fed Ex delivery person for help.  “Tell her that this is good stuff”, I implored.  He did and that is how my relationship with CYWD started.

CYWD is an organization that gives young (mostly) minority women a second chance after involvement with the juvenile justice system. They provide in-house training, peer support and advocacy to promote self-determination and increase leadership skills.

Over a few years of weekly food deliveries, I developed a close relationship with CYWD staff. The Program Director began to ask me and my wife to join in other activities, such as:

  • Act as a potential employer in a mock job interviews 
  • Attend their annual “Gratitude Dinner” (a substitute for a traditional Thanksgiving) where clients offered personal reflections and poetry
  • Participate in a “Healing Circle” at Civic Center to celebrate rebirth after incarceration
  • Attend their 20th Anniversary celebration along with clients and supporters – including members of the Public Defender’s Office
We felt privileged to be included and joined in with love and joy.

Ossie at CYWD ready to unload a trunk full of food
One day while making a delivery, a CYWD member asked “Ossie, may I tag you?” I responded “Of course,” not really knowing what “tag” meant. And Voila! My introduction to Facebook.