Job Corps remains committed at food distribution events

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 June 2021 at 11:19 am

‘It’s all about helping. It’s our love for Orleans County.’

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Kevin Ross, an employee at the Iroquois Job Corps in Medina, moves a 20-pound box of produce this morning during a food distribution in Albion.

Anthony Washington, right, is another Job Corps employee who helped lug boxes to car trunks and truck beds for about 2 hours.

The Job Corps had six employees helping at the distribution this morning. The Job Corps staff go to almost every distribution, which typically is three or four a month.

“They have been angels,” said Annette Finch, director of emergency service at Community Action of Orleans & Genesee.

Ross has volunteered at about 25 of the distributions since last year. He works as a nursing instructor at the Job Corps.

“This is about helping people and it’s good for the community,” said Ross, who is also a firefighter and paramedic.

Anthony Washington is a career transitions specialist for Job Corps, helping students to find jobs or get connected to college. He is happy to help at the distributions.

“It’s a change of pace, but it’s more about helping people out,” he said.

Krista Fiegel, an employee at the Iroquois Job Corps, has led the Job Corps team at the distributions since at least last September. She is thankful the Job Corps supports allowing staff to be off site to help at the distributions. With the drive time and work at the distributions it can be a three to four hour commitment.

Finch said the Job Corps staff have a great system down for organizing the boxes and getting people in place. The men often handle the heavier boxes with dairy products, but Fiegel said the women are strong and can move the heavier boxes, too.

There are typically 300 main boxes at the each distribution, but there are often surprise items that aren’t known until the delivery truck arrives in the morning. Today there was tofu for the first time, and corn on the cob, sealed in packages of four.

Community Action staff and the volunteers will quickly count all the loose or unexpected items, and determine how many to include with each boxes. Sometimes that’s two or three bags of Brussels Sprouts, grapes, apples, green bags, containers of yogurt, and other items.

They do the work in all kinds of conditions, from stifling heat to sub-freezing temperatures. At one of the distributions last month, the weather went from rain to sleet to hail to rain in the morning.

“We power through it,” said Fiegel, who works in outreach for Job Corps. “Nobody complains.”

She sends an email to staff with a list of the upcoming distributions, and people volunteer, often from many different departments. The efforts have helped build a stronger team at the Job Corps.

But Fiegel said the main motivation is wanting to help people get food and have the distributions go more smoothly and quickly.

“It’s all about helping,” Fiegel said. “It’s our love for Orleans County.”

The Orleans Hub each year recognizes a group of “Outstanding Citizens.” The Orleans Hub picked the Job Corps as one of the award winners in 2020. We normally recognize the “Outstanding Citizens” during an awards presentation with all the winners. A larger gathering was difficult due to Covid restrictions earlier this year. Tom Rivers, the Orleans Hub editor, presented the Job Corps team with the plaque this morning and commended the group for staying committed to the food distributions.

The group this morning includes from left Anthony Washington, Marylou Porter (human resources manager), Lance Tlustos (TEAP specialist), Krista Fiegel, Kevin Ross and Denise Socha (data integrity specialist).

There was a long line of vehicles down Chamberlain Street this morning. That line then extended down McKinistry, East Park and onto Main Street.