RadioRotary interviews Zamir Hassan, founder of The Hunger Van, a volunteer effort to bring food to the hungry homeless. In 2000, Hassan chaperoned a school trip to a local food pantry and was astonished by how many were going hungry in his prosperous New Jersey community. He says that in his tradition, you are not supposed to go to sleep if your neighbor is hungry, so he began to work on ways to alleviate the problem. As he traveled from place to place around the United States, helping to set up food pantries, he realized that many of the hungry homeless lack transportation to get to the food pantries, so he created a volunteer program that would bring healthy food to where the homeless lived, beneath bridges or in doorways. Hunger Vans now operate in cities all over the United States. Hassan was in the Hudson Valley to help inaugurate the Hunger Van program in Poughkeepsie.
Salvation Army Captains Sam and Jenny Alarcon visit RadioRotary to describe some of the many ways that The Salvation Army works to solve problems in Poughkeepsie and the Hudson Valley. The Salvation Army, founded in London by William Booth in 1865, is a worldwide Christian church that is organized along military lines. Its mission includes meeting human needs without discrimination. From its first days it has focused on helping the homeless, addicts and alcoholics, and the hungry. Many may know it from collecting money outside store entrances at holiday time—the bell ringers in uniform are Salvationists, while many others are volunteers. The Alarcons describe various Salvation Army projects from after school for children to centers for seniors.
Christina Novak, Communications and Development Coordinator of the Dutchess Country SPCA, visits the RadioRotary studio to describe the work of her organization, which is much more diverse than most persons realize. While the letters SPCA stand for Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals, most people think of the Dutchess County SPCA largely in terms of pet adoptions (and they do handle this for all kinds of pets, including birds, rabbits, rats, and Guinea pigs, as well as dogs and cats), but there are many other services. A low-cost clinic, open to the public, provides routine veterinarian care for all sorts of pets. There is outreach to schools, humane law enforcement, a pet cemetery and crematorium, and a lost and found service. There is even a Pet Pantry, a food bank for pet food. Learn about this and more, as well as how to become one of the more than 200 volunteers that make the Dutchess SPCA work.
RadioRotary interviews Marisol Rodriguez, Executive Director of Literacy Connections of the Hudson Valley, a nonprofit using local volunteers to help people to read, write, and reach their potential. One in five Americans are functionally illiterate, which means that their reading and writing skills are at a sixth-grade level or lower. Literacy Connections trained volunteers work one-on-one with the functionally illiterate to teach them the specific skills they need for a given goal, such as passing a driver’s test. They also can teach English as a Second Language (ESL). Before a learner enters the program—which is free—they are evaluated by certified testers to determine the specific source of their difficulties. In a separate program called “Book Buddies,” volunteers read to children in schools. Volunteers for either program can be anyone who is able to read and write comfortably.