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Giving Back

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— July 15, 2017

Giving Back

  • The employees at Natures Plus share their experiences and what giving back means to them.
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Lida Loguercio

Corporate Services Assistant

“I’m a mother,” says Lida, who helps several organizations that work for the welfare of children. Lida volunteers for a group created by parents in various social networks to raise money for children with life-threatening genetic disorders, such as Tay-Sachs disease or muscular dystrophy. “I have a close friend who has a son with a disability so I know what that’s like,” she says. Lida posts information on social media as part of the group’s fundraising effort. Most of the children served live in Ukraine, Russia or Belarus, and many come from poor families. Since Lida is Russian, she translates for families when they bring their children to the US for treatment. She also pitches in with research, as in the case of a girl who needed an oxygen concentrate because she stops breathing when she goes outside. Lida tracked down a company that sells it and found someone who could deliver it to the family. “The mothers are so grateful,” she says. “They post photos and documentation so people can see where the money is going.” Lida also helps raise money for her son’s Catholic school, St. Isidore School in Riverhead, New York. “The school is really small,” she says, “and tuition is not enough.” She arranges fundraisers such as bingo nights to generate extra money for field trips and other enrichment activities. A third organization she supports is The Gift of Life, founded by Lida’s godparents. This group helps children with heart problems whose families can’t afford surgery. “They bring the families here and work with doctors to get the surgeries they need,” she explains. “Sometimes I go and translate for them. I feel for the parents. If I had a situation, I would love for someone to help me if I was in need.”

Deborah Woodard

Lead Telemarketing Sales Rep

“I love to cook,” says Debra. “When it comes to volunteering to cook, it’s natural for me.” Debra donates her cooking skills at an annual community event given by Impact Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Every July, the church hosts a gathering where children receive backpacks and school supplies. Last year, after six months of fundraising, the church gave out 1,600 backpacks filled with pencils, scissors, glue, and crayons. “We do it on a Saturday and invite the community to come to the church,” Debra explains. “We feed them and have fun and games for them to enjoy. I volunteer in the kitchen making up the hot dogs, chips, and drinks to give out.” Any food leftover is given to homeless people on the street. Excess backpacks are taken to the Red Cross and Salvation Army for distribution to children. “It seems like such a little thing, but it’s big to the parents and the kids,” Debra says. “Who knows—it might be the only meal they get that day. Backpacks are expensive, and they get a pretty backpack they can choose the color of. And they get fun—pony rides, bounce houses, bean bag toys. I love to see the smiles on their faces. It’s always hot as blazes, but I’m not sure if it’s all heat but the love of God being shared with the community.” For Debra, giving is a source of joy. “It’s a blessing to me because I do feel like I’m doing work for God’s kingdom. My children always accuse me of being hard to buy for because I get more pleasure out of watching them open their gifts than opening mine. I love the expression on people’s faces—you’re blessed instantly when that emotion comes through.”

Barry Gubell

Director of Distribution

“Basketball is a very big passion of mine,” Barry says. “I played in high school and on up into my early 50s. My daughters both played for the church team, which I’ve been coaching for the last 15 years. I’m passing on my passion to a group of kids and some of the lessons I’ve learned.” By coaching the team at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hicksville, New York, Barry feels he’s teaching important life skills. “The kids are learning to work together,” he says. “We’re providing them with a good positive experience, teaching sportsmanship and fair play and conducting themselves the right way—all the things that go along with being a team.” Tom Perovich is director of Trinity’s basketball programs, part of the Long Island Lutheran Basketball League, comprising thirteen churches that each field several teams of kids from kindergarten through high school, plus adult divisions. “We take all comers,” says Perovich, “so there’s a range of skills on each team. It requires a certain kind of coach who can live with that, yet make sure everyone’s participating in the games. Barry does that.” Barry remained a coach even after his daughters went off to college. Last fall, when one team was lacking a coach, he volunteered to fill the gap. “He coached two teams this year,” says Perovich, “and he doesn’t even have a kid in the league. That really impressed me.” Coaching involves other responsibilities that go along with being part of a church organization. Barry and his players help sell Christmas trees, with all the income going to support church activities. As an annual basketball fundraiser, the coaches cook breakfast for the congregation, flipping pancakes and frying up sausages and home fries. “People look forward to it,” Barry says, “and you feel like you’re helping a cause that’s greater than you.”

Christine Collins

Manager of Contract Packaging

“At my church, someone mentioned there were people going hungry in my community,” Christine says. “To me, that was inconceivable when we are so blessed.” Since that insight 16 years ago, Collins has spent Monday evenings working with the Sandwich Society, organized by St. John’s Church in Bohemia, New York. Collins helped start the service in 2001, going to local businesses for donations of money or food. Each week, volunteers put together sandwiches that go to women’s shelters, outreach centers and soup kitchens. Although the group of volunteers has dwindled, Collins has persisted and now brings her grandchildren along when they’re off from school in the summer. “I pick them up after work,” she says. “I want them to know there are children out there who are hungry.” Sister Lisa Bergeron, director of Parish Social Ministry at St. John’s, says the volunteers make 500 to 550 sandwiches each Monday—about 30,000 per year. Bergeron says of Collins, “She has a great gentleness of spirit and a compassionate heart. She’s a woman of strong faith. Chris’s commitment reminds us that whenever we fulfill the need of another person, we actually touch God.” Collins feels it’s important to give back and finds it gratifying to know she has provided a meal for someone who might otherwise have had nothing to eat. She says, “It makes your heart feel good.”

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