Saturday, May 25, 2019

'I wanted to do something more'

Nancy Robert
Nancy Robert
Nancy Robert started volunteering at Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen last October. A month later she was spearheading an effort to provide warm clothing and toiletries to soup kitchen guests.

“I wanted to do something more,” she simply states.

That’s not an uncommon sentiment for someone volunteering at the soup kitchen.

As Nancy put it:

“There’s a lot of need in that area of West Utica…
“Homeless people. Hungry people.”

That “something more” quickly grew. In a couple of months, what started in a small spot in the basement overtook a large classroom on the second floor. It’s dubbed West Side Boutique for short, but like the soup kitchen, it is dedicated to St. Marianne Cope. Nancy’s dedicated crew include her sisters, Phyllis Bonanca and Pat McCraith, and a pair of soup kitchen volunteers who also wanted to do something more -- Julie Crandall and Bernadette VanValkenburg.

There are racks and tables of clothes, mostly new thanks to donors like Mary Gearhart of Queen’s Closet in Yorkville. In fact, Nancy recently outfitted two men and a young woman with a set of new clothes to wear to job interviews.

There are cabinets full of personal care items, thanks to places like Mohawk Valley Community College and Compassion Coalition’s Bargain Grovery. There are book cases sporting volumes of good reading for children and adults as well as games, stuffed animals and other toys.

There’s a gift table… for those with little means to be able to have a present to give on such occasions as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays.

That “something more” blossomed again in the form of free hair cuts on the first Monday of the month, thanks to Hair Solutions in Yorkville, and free health screenings on the second Tuesday of the month, thanks to doctors at the St. Elizabeth Family Medicine Residency Program in Utica.

We wonder what “something more” will produce next.