Town rallying with food, funds for needy
From preparing meals for schoolchildren while the Hull Public Schools are closed to reaching out to those who are alone and in need of a helping hand, the close-knit Hull community, facing the coronavirus threat, is pulling together as it always does in times of crisis.
“The focus is on feeding everyone who is unable to feed themselves, those who can’t get out – whether schoolchildren, seniors, or individuals without the physical, mental, or financial capacity to go out and get food. That is our first concern,” said Craig Wolfe, Hull’s emergency response coordinator.
“We’re outfitting a regional emergency Rotary trailer that is based here in Hull stocked with supplies, complete with a generator that allows us to heat up food,” Wolfe said. “There have been no calls so far, but we’re on standby – along with the Salvation Army and Red Cross – in case there’s a need. In the meantime, we’re just trying to continue life as normal,” with the usual precautions in place.
Wolfe also noted that Council on Aging Director Barbara Lawlor informed him that that should the meals on wheels program be canceled for any reason, the senior center kitchen will be open to prepare meals for those who currently receive these meals along with others in need of food. The meals will be prepared by local chefs in the senior center kitchen. “No one in Hull will go hungry,” Wolfe said.
The Wellspring Multi-Service Center staff is complying with recommendations to work from home when appropriate. “For vital programs and services such as the food pantry [including lunches for students], we have instituted a delivery model and a drive-through approach for families,” President and CEO Vinny Harte said. Signage is posted to direct the traffic flow.
Harte was referring in part to a coordinated effort between Wellspring and the Hull Public Schools to ensure that no child goes hungry during this health crisis. Accordingly, in keeping with the “social distancing” recommendation, Wellspring on Tuesday began offering daily drive-through lunch service from the back doors of its food pantry, Aunt Dot’s Kitchen, for families with children in the Hull Public Schools who are on a free or reduced-cost breakfast/lunch program. The service is provided from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, and is expected to continue as long as the schools remain closed.
Access to the inside of the building is limited to four staff members at a time. Wellspring’s on-site services will be closed until March 30, with remote services available.
In addition to providing lunches for school kids, Wellspring, Harte reported, is fielding more calls than usual for immediate services, “but many of the callers are looking for clarity about what to expect [during the coronavirus crisis],” he said. “We continue to gather information, sometimes on a minute-by minute-basis. Guidelines and responses continue to change. We are awaiting word on what will be done to help people who can’t pay their light, heat, and cable TV bills and what, if any, protections will be put in place to fend off evictions.”
Despite the challenges, Harte said, “we will get through this by working together as a community and serving our neighbors in need.”
While on-site services will not be available until March 30 (although that date is subject to change), Harte said Wellspring is available by telephone and email during the crisis. “Anyone can call [781-925-321] at any time and leave a message or email [wellspringmultiservice.org],” he said.
“Many individuals have contacted me offering to make a donation to support a food program during this time,” Acting School Superintendent Judith Kuehn noted.
Hull residents have an opportunity to do just that. Aunt Dot’s Kitchen, the food pantry, is accepting donations of nonperishable food as well as fresh produce, supermarket gift cards redeemable at Village Market and Stop & Shop, and financial contributions to help meet the needs of residents who might find themselves unemployed, at least temporarily. Financial donations can be made at wellspringmultiservice.org/donate in any amount.
In the Kenberma commercial district, the Village Market has been a magnet for shoppers stocking up on supplies. An employee answering the phone on Monday morning did not have time to talk except to say the store is very busy. “We’re just trying to keep the shelves stocked,” he said.
Nantasket Pharmacy has also had a steady stream of customers. “Things are going well,” said pharmacist Rocky Tenaglia. “Some people are very concerned about their medications. We try to calm them down and assure them we have plenty of inventory right now, and they seem fine with that. We aren’t planning to go anywhere. We plan to remain open. I live down the street and can walk to work.”
The pharmacy recently ordered a three-month supply of cough and cold preparations. “We’re trying to find a place to put them,” Tenaglia told the Times.
As for other essentials, Tenaglia said, “We still can’t get toilet tissue, and there’s a shortage of alcohol and aloe because people are making their own hand sanitizer.” The pharmacy had been promised a hand sanitizer delivery by a supplier, but, as of Monday morning, it had not been received.
Tenaglia’s offered this advice to customers and the community at large: “Stay calm. It will be fine. It’s a flu, and we all should make it through.”