By Melissa Randall
In May, Revere native and a 2004 graduate of Revere High School, Megan Conley returned home after living in Portland, Oregon for the last six years, with her partner, Joshua. Part of her return was to give back to the community she called home. Conley, the daughter of retired Revere Fire Department Senior Deputy Chief, Michael Conley, started volunteering while looking for a job when she relocated back to Revere. “Joshua and I both started volunteering while we were looking for jobs. We helped the FCC First Congregational Church with the help of the Greater Boston Food Bank, unloading, bringing deliveries inside, and putting goods away in appropriate locations inside the Rumney Marsh Academy”.
Conley’s work as the Food Distribution Center Manager includes receiving 10,000 pounds of non perishable food on Monday mornings with the assistance of volunteers. The next step is putting together 400 bags, alongside 20 volunteer community members, on Tuesday nights. According to Conley, this has grown so big that the city had to assist with the FCC food pantry operation to help with the volume of residents needing assistance.
On Wednesday nights, more than 30 volunteer community members gather to pass out food to a consistent 250 families each week. “Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and the next 5 Saturdays we are currently receiving and distributing boxes of produce, dairy, and meat to our residents and surrounding communities. Boston Area Gleaners and Costa are the vendors who are providing us with these boxes for our residents,” Conley said. Monday through Friday Charlie Guiffrida, Conley, and other members of the community and city help out with the personal deliveries to residents who are immobile, in quarantine, or don’t drive. Conley added, “We feed many people in Revere. It is quite the operation!”
Megan’s dedication to volunteering, each week, earned her a grant funded position with the Covid-19 Emergency Response Team. “I met Dimple Rana, Director of the Healthy Community Initiatives Program, Charlie Guiffrida (Assistant Director of the City of Revere Parks & Recreation Department) and Wendy Baur (Director of the First Congregational Food Pantry) when I began volunteering. They realized the Emergency Response Team needed another member to help facilitate the almost daily operations for feeding our community. Volunteering is not new to Conley. “Going back all these years I have volunteered with so many different organizations. It all started when I started working at the Center for Community Based Learning at Lasell College”. Conley graduated from Lasell College in 2009 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design and Production. In addition to volunteering at Lasell, she also volunteered with the Boston Charter Schools, AIDS Action Committee of Boston, Joannie’s Project, Oregon Food Bank, American Red Cross, Martha’s Vineyard Community Radio Show Project Bread Walk for Hunger, and Clean the Beach Oregon.
Her experience since returning home has been unique but extremely rewarding. “I love seeing the teamwork between all of the volunteers. Coming together to help the community all while giving yourself wholeheartedly for the sake of giving back. Creating new friendships with people you may have never come to know is always a plus. We are all here for a reason, and everyone shares those sentiments during the hours we spend together volunteering. The reason people come to volunteer varies and that is what makes this such a unique experience. It makes my heart melt with such gratefulness because this isn’t a walk in the park. We sweat, we bleed, and we cry. People are hustling and giving it 100% every moment they are there. We are constantly lifting thousands of pounds of food every day whether it is receiving it, prepping it, setting it up to be distributed or breaking down the entire set up as if it never existed for hours before,” said Conley.
Conley went on to add, “Every Thursday morning I wake up feeling incredibly grateful for the opportunity to give back to my city. I absolutely admire each and every one of the volunteers who help with any and all of the steps that it takes to feed our community. I admire them for giving up their time, using their bodies to lift, bend and move food, their positive attitudes and ability to get the job done. I love seeing everyone with smiles on their faces happy to lend a hand wherever needed. My partner and I have never done anything like this together and every Wednesday he shows up with me ready to rock and roll like champs. I also encourage anyone who wants to volunteer to join us. Every week more and more new volunteers sign up to spend some time giving back to their community and it is great to witness their want to help. You are doing it out of the goodness of your own heart and it should make you feel good about yourself and about giving back to your community because that is what life is all about.I have truly found my purpose in this and this is it. I want to spend the rest of my life giving back and I will do just that. That is not only my dream, but that is a promise.”
If you are interested in volunteering in one of the city’s food programs, contact Ralph Decicco at [email protected]