Volunteer Spotlight: Friends of Mascoma Foundation Connects the Dots

  • Friends of Mascoma Foundation volunteers Cara Drexler and Jerusha Howard, both of Enfield, N.H., help out at the foundation’s food pantry in Canaan last week. (Valley News -Liz Sauchelli)

Valley News Calendar Editor
Sunday, September 03, 2017

Canaan — When the group Friends of Mascoma Foundation was established in 2014, founding member and current treasurer Carolyn Cusick knew there was a need in the community.

What she didn’t expect was how much that need would grow.

“We had no idea we were going to get into the food business,” Cusick said during a recent interview at the foundation’s food pantry in Canaan. It was a Tuesday, when volunteers go down to the New Hampshire Food Bank in Manchester to pick up food for the coming week. Volunteers, including community members who are current or retired first responders, unloaded the van and sorted food.

The nonprofit organization “saw all the resources we could bring to the Mascoma Valley that weren’t really being used,” Cusick said. “What we did was connect the dots.”

And with that growing community need, the need for additional volunteers has grown as well. The organization serves families and residents of the five Mascoma Valley towns: Canaan, Dorchester, Enfield, Grafton and Orange.

Overseeing food pantries in Canaan and Enfield (as well as supplying the pantry at Mascoma Regional High School) is far from the only community service the nonprofit organization provides. It also hosts education programs, provides grants for teachers, raises funds for scholarships for Mascoma students, organizes a community garden and a warm clothing giveaway, and hosts other community events, including the Sept. 16 Fall Mascoma Mixer, for which the organization needs a hand.

“We want to continue this and we need volunteers,” Cusick said.

Cara Drexler and Jerusha Howard, both of Enfield, were among the volunteers at the food pantry on Tuesday. They volunteer regularly with the organization and have children in the school district.

“Because it makes my heart happy,” Drexler said when asked why she volunteers there. “I try to live a life for others.”

Over the summer, Drexler brought her children to help out at the food pantry.

“It teaches them to really help out in the community, that they’re part of something bigger,” she said.

Pantry volunteers must be at least 16; younger children can volunteer with parents or caregivers present.

The organization also recently moved into a larger place with more space for freezers to store meat and other perishable items.

“It helps a lot of people,” Howard said.

Editor’s note: For more information, visit http://friendsofmascoma.org, email info@friendsofmascoma.org or call 603-632-4542. Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli @vnews.com or 603-727-3221.