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Features

Long Island Social Diary: Helping Hands At Uniondale’s New Life Center

There but for the grace of God go I. It’s something I often find myself thinking about whenever I see a homeless person or hear stories on the news about poverty, which unfortunately is fairly often. On Long Island alone, 250,000 people depend on soup kitchens, food pantries and emergency shelters for their food during the year.

Having been a struggling single mom, I’ve unfortunately had the experience of trying to financially keep my head above water even while trying to take care of and protect my kids. At the end of the day, it’s charitable organizations that are oftentimes that life preserver for those people who are metaphorically drowning.

Which is why I’m so impressed with Uniondale’s New Life Center, the only Lutheran-run food pantry on Long Island.

Thanks to program coordinator Hylkije Halili and her crew of dedicated volunteers, clients who come in once a month not only get taken care of with food, but can also receive clothing. The way it works is that a person or family is referred to New Life by a social worker. Once paperwork is filled out and the number of family members is established, those families are entitled to a certain amount of food.

With this being such a delicate situation in regard to people trying to maintain their pride and dignity, this food pantry does a wonderful job being sensitive to the predicament people like this are in. Which means that the food pantry is set up like a mini market where a client will wheel around a shopping cart and be able to pick out donations for themselves.

Throughout the year, New Life runs different programs where special holiday baskets are assembled and contain foods of the season (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter) or donated school supplies are packed up in backpacks and distributed to returning students in August and September. And with the holidays always being a particularly tough time of the year, New Life makes things somewhat more bearable with a Christmas sponsor program, where churches and individuals get to help out specific individuals and families by purchasing and donating personalized Christmas gifts.

But what especially impressed me is New Life’s infant layette and assistance program. What this means is that financially disadvantaged new moms are given a layette packed with new items that includes blankets, feeding items, (bottle, dish, sippy cup), supplies (Q-tips, wipes, lotion) and a diaper bag. From personal experience, I can tell you how invaluable this kind of help is, given the high cost of diapers, formula and other infant-related items. I can’t imagine being a new mother and having to stress out over all these additional costs. A situation like this is particularly stressful, so for a place like this to exist is quite wonderful.

I’ve become very excited over the prospect of helping out the New Life Center and I would encourage everyone to contact New Life Center and think about volunteering or generously giving whether it’s food, clothing, or monetary donations. To be without a job or be in a position where you’re barely hanging on is very rough and as I constantly remind myself, it’s something that can happen to anyone.

To find out more information about donating to or volunteering at the New Life Center, please call 516-483-3240.