¿Qué Pasa? Newsletter
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” -RBG

Thank you from
Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes
We would like to thank and acknowledge all of our financial supporters who have made this year's Empty Bowls campaign a success. Although we had to cancel our traditional dinner and auction this year, we were still blessed with generous community support. Total raised: $57,000.
Since 1989, our Kitchen and Pantry Programs have provided healthy meals, supplementary and emergency groceries for people experiencing food insecurity in the Pajaro Valley. Thanks to friends and supporters who kindly give volunteer service hours and much-needed funds, we are able to continue our mission.

The abundance of generosity we’ve received brings us hope for the future. Thank you for your support during this time of health and economic stress.

We would also like to thank and acknowledge ALL those who donated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to your generous support we have been able to meet the needs of many families in crisis since March 2020.

Maria celebrates 17 years at PVLF
We celebrate and honor Maria Gonzalez for her 17 years of service as Chef and Kitchen Manager with Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes. During her tenure, Maria has prepared and served over 450,000 meals to our neighbors in need. Her love and dedication can be seen in the quality meals she prepares and deep connections she has made with volunteers and the people she serves.
Volunteering When It's Needed Most
Kathryn O'Brien - NDMV AmeriCorps
While 2020 has certainly seen a lot of challenges, it has also shown how much people are willing to step up and support one another during times of crisis. Like many others, in March when the COVID-19 pandemic first swept across the nation, I found myself without a job, and I was not sure what was going to happen next. However, before too long, I was extremely fortunate to be welcomed into the Loaves and Fishes family where, with the Notre Dame Mission AmeriCorps Volunteer team, I have been given an opportunity to give back to the Santa Cruz community where I have been living for the past year.

After only a couple of months, I have been amazed by the quality of volunteers who donate so much of their time and attention to this great mission, and add so much joy to the task of bringing food to the Pajaro Valley with Loaves and Fishes. I sat down with a handful of our regular volunteers to hear their stories, and they told me what is special to them about serving their community during this time.
Jonathan Rivas, a Watsonville native, has been a loyal volunteer of PVLF for more than 5 years. The amount of volunteer support Jonathan provides us is invaluable. He is here to help nearly every day of the week and while he can typically be found passing out food in the front pantry, he is always willing to go wherever he is needed, and provides fun and thoughtful conversations along the way, being very intentional about checking in with each individual. Jonathan says that he likes working at PVLF because he gets to meet new people, spend time with friends, and take his mind off any negative things. Though he has seen everything change since COVID hit, he continues to volunteer from his heart, saying that “it feels good to be sharing with people.”
Santa Cruz yoga teacher Rachel Sonnenblick, sprang into action when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the community. Three days a week, Rachel supports our pantry operation, helping especially with restocking bags of groceries. In addition to enjoying the mental health benefits of doing something positive, she said it has helped her get a broader view of our community. “I have met definitely more farmworkers working here in last 6 months than I had in decades of working in Santa Cruz, and it’s been really nice to get exposed to other parts-- vital, crucial parts-- of our community, that I hadn't really been involved in before.”
We are also so fortunate that often our pantry or lunch guests want to find a way to give back for the services they have received. Maria Zacaria Hernandez was inspired to sign up to volunteer. “Para mi es un gusto muy grande estar aquí ayudando, porque me nació en el corazón… [For me it is a great pleasure to be here helping, because it comes from the heart …] she shared with us that first morning. “...Poner un poco de mi tiempo, para ayudar a otras personas… siento que es muy bonito, lo que se siente ayudar [to put in a little of my time toward helping other people ... I feel it is very beautiful, what it feels like to help others]."
Rebecca Meredith has always had a heart for helping others. A retired audiologist, Rebecca has continually sought out ways to give back to the community, serving with programs like CASA and Second Harvest, and was drawn to PVLF by the essential task of feeding those in need. "Food is such an important part of our lives," she said. “The mission here is really a great one… and it's really fun to be in the kitchen and watch Maria, the cook, who's amazing, and the job that she does to make these wonderful meals for people.” During a time of compounding national crises, she says she especially sees the value of the work. “I just think it's more important than ever to be cognizant and aware of those that are in need.” Compared to bigger volunteer operations, she said she has also really enjoyed the smaller setting of our facility and the familiarity that it brings. "It feels more close... you know the people that come here, because they live here, and they come to a house, he is looking forward to getting back to where they serve the lunches here." We cannot wait for you to be a part of that as well, Rebecca!
The reasons all of our wonderful volunteers find it meaningful to be a part of PVLF echo my own. We have never seen a crisis quite like the one we are now facing, and I am so grateful to be a part of the Loaves and Fishes team as it is directly responding to the increased needs of our local community. As Rebecca said, PVLF is really "a part of the community... and you can really feel that." This organization has a very welcoming atmosphere with exceptionally gracious guests, and it is full of people working hard to feed those who need it the most. I have already learned a lot from all of those who have committed themselves to service, and I heartily look forward to supporting the PV community this year.

Come on by to volunteer-- they say it’s a great place to work! :) 
Kathryn O'Brien, Notre Dame Mission AmeriCorps Volunteer
We are getting ready for the holidays, which can be a stressful time, especially when dealing with food insecurity.

In addition to being open on Thanksgiving Day, when we will serve a traditional hot meal for our neighbors in need, we are also providing families turkeys and all the fixings to prepare at home. Our goal is to give 1,200+ families turkey, potatoes, veggies, pumpkin, and a bottle of Martinelli's.     

More than 1000 families are counting on us for this special meal and we need your help to make it a reality. We are asking for monetary donations, gift cards to local groceries stores, or actual frozen turkeys.

Giving a gift of food will bring joy to many families, including yours. When you sit down for Thanksgiving, you will know another family is doing the same thanks to YOU.

Thank you for joining us in helping to alleviate hunger in the Pajaro Valley. We couldn't do it without you, and we are so grateful for your participation and support. I am filled with so much gratitude and appreciation.

Peace, love, and healthy food,
Ashley Bridges
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Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes
150 2nd St
Watsonville, CA 95076