Rose Zacchi's friends know where to find her every Sunday afternoon -- in Hempstead, at West Columbia Street and Station Plaza. Come 2 p.m., she's unloading food from her car at the Long Island Food Not Bombs share. When she's done, she helps set it up and distribute it.
On Tuesday nights at 7, she's at the Huntington Station share at East Sixth Street and Fairground Avenue, repeating the process. At 7 p.m. every Thursday, Zacchi is at the Farmingville share at Horseblock Road and Woodycrest Drive, doing the same things. In between those days, she's on call.
"I might get a call at 9 at night that there's food to pick up somewhere," said Zacchi, a Ronkonkoma resident. Since the food is mostly perishables, it must be delivered right away. "So, if it's not going to a food share, I'll bring it to a local shelter like Phoenix House," she said.
In addition to all those hours with Long Island Food Not Bombs, Zacchi, 56, puts in a full day at her job at Pilgrim Psychiatric Center's outpatient clinic in Yaphank. She is a vocational assistant and has worked there for the past 33 years.
"I find jobs for people who have mental disabilities," she said. "And I do job coaching once someone gets a job." Her duties range from helping her clients write resumes and deal with co-workers to handling anxiety about social situations on the job, such as eating lunch with co-workers. But Zacchi wanted to do more.
About six years ago, she got her wish after reading a news article about a group of people giving out bread. "And I thought, 'That's what I want to do!' " Zacchi recalled. She went to the Hempstead Long Island Food Not Bombs food share and was hooked from that moment on.
"It wasn't just giving out food, it was sharing food . . . it was community," Zacchi said.
It has become her passion and her social life.
"My friends always say, 'Why don't you do something fun?' and I explain, this is my life. I get everything out of it. I meet people at shares from all walks of life. . . . It's incredible. There are no barriers, no lines drawn. We are all the same, and we can all be in these people's situation at any time."
Sign me up
The organization is looking for people interested in donating vans in working condition that could be used for donation pickups. For more on Long Island Food Not Bombs, email LongIslandFoodNotBombs@gmail.com, visit lifnb.com or call 631-223-4370.
You might also consider . . .
Boots on the Ground in Ronkonkoma collects and delivers food and furniture for veterans and their families.
Island Harvest in Mineola collects and delivers food to a network of 570 Long Island-based food pantries, soup kitchens and other nonprofit organizations. It is at 199 Second St. in Mineola.
islandharvest.orgSt. Hugh of Lincoln Outreach Food Pantry in Huntington Station is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Chet Lukaszewski of Huntington, a retired high school teacher, has volunteered at the pantry for 10 years. "I believe in you earn, learn and return," he said.
Contact: Fran Leek, 631-271-8986; sthugh.org/parishlife/
For more volunteer information and opportunities, contact the LONG ISLAND VOLUNTEER CENTER at 516-564-5482; longislandvolunteercenter.org