Changing Lives On The North Side

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It’s a warm spring day and CUMAC’s van pulls up to the corner of N 1st and Arch Street. A handful of clients stand outside, eagerly awaiting the mobile pantry’s arrival. Our team is greeted with warm smiles and hellos. They begin unloading their equipment and get to work. Every Wednesday you can find CUMAC’s mobile pantry on the north side of Paterson. It’s part of CUMAC’s ongoing efforts to reach underserved populations and ensure that none of our neighbors go hungry. For many residents in the north side, transportation is limited and that makes accessing community resources a huge challenge. Having services brought directly to our neighbors provides them with some much-needed relief.

“This is a real blessing. I don’t know what I’d do without CUMAC” says one of our regular clients as he waits to pick up his groceries. Our team starts to process his paperwork, but it feels more like friends catching up. They talk about their lives and share stories while Jeni types away at the computer.

Our client talks about his recent trip to the hospital, while our team carefully listens. Fortunately, he’s fully recovered and feeling much better. After a few minutes of chatting, our client thanks our team one last time, picks up his food, and goes on his way. As he walks out, I think about what I just witnessed. It’s hard to describe, but it just feels like community. That kind of attention and care is something that’s commonplace at CUMAC. Whether it’s in our building or on the streets of Paterson, CUMAC strives to serve our clients well and make them feel supported.

As the morning goes on, clients filter in and out. Jeni and Marvin handle the intake process, while Isaiah stands ready by the CUMAC van, distributing groceries. Isaiah loves making our clients smile, so you’ll always hear him cracking jokes and finding a way to brighten their day.

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Between jokes, Isaiah carefully helps an elderly woman load her shopping cart, which she walks over from a senior residence down the street. “She wouldn’t be able to make it to CUMAC,” he says. “Nice that we can come to her.” Isaiah looks down the road as she crosses the street toward her apartment. She’s got a big smile on her face and a cart full of groceries to take home. She won’t have to worry about going hungry this month because there are people around her that care. That’s what being part of a community is all about, isn’t it?