Crowds turn out for a charitable cause at My Brother’s Keeper soiree
The warehouse on Reed Road shone with glowing lights as nearly 300 people braved mosquitoes in the falling dusk on Saturday evening to gather under a tent and eat, drink and be merry.
It was the second annual soiree for My Brother’s Keeper, a Christian non-profit that offers furniture and other necessities — including limited food assistance — for those in need.
Volunteers, board members, and friends drank wine and cocktails, nibbled pre-dinner hors d’oeuvres, and listened to the live jazz while the sun set over the Dartmouth facility.
The warehouse holds 23,000 square feet of donated furniture, mattresses, kitchenwares, tools, and toys that are shipped out daily to those who ask for it.
“We’re the resource that you go to if you’ve had a fire, if you’ve been homeless,” said Josh Smith, director of the Dartmouth facility (the organization also operates in Easton.)
Smith said that across both facilities, 4,000 volunteers help make 9,000 deliveries within about a half-hour radius per year.
And since the Dartmouth branch opened six years ago, Smith said, “People have been really supportive. They want to help their neighbors. So it’s really just taken off.”
“There are no prerequisites for service,” he added. “Anyone can call...We don’t check income statements, we don’t check IDs, immigration forms. The fact that someone called, that’s enough right there.”
Proceeds from the soiree tickets and raffle went towards the charity’s programs, which also include the delivery of Christmas presents to families in need over the holiday season.
And hundreds of people came out for the soiree despite widespread fears of mosquito-borne Eastern equine encephalitis.
A few partook of the complimentary bug spray provided for safety measures, but everybody still seemed happy to show up for a good cause on such a balmy evening.
“How do you describe joy?” asked guest speaker and student volunteer Brooke Douglas of the crowd.
In her speech, Douglas described how it felt to deliver much-needed furniture to a New Bedford family with several children.
“I was so captivated by the love and joy that these children exuded,” she said.
Many of those in attendance who weren’t already volunteers were thinking about it by the end of the night.
“It’s been amazing,” said Hannah Delorey, who was invited to the event as a guest. “It’s nice to see the facility…I definitely have an interest in public service, and in this sort of organization.”
“I’m definitely interested in volunteering,” agreed her sister, UMass Dartmouth student Sarah Delorey. “I’m literally right down the street.”
“We make the mattress covers,” said volunteer Jenny Abbate of Portsmouth, RI. “It’s just a worthwhile thing to do.”
“It’s just the nicest group of people you’d ever want to meet. It really is a wonderful organization,” said fellow volunteer Linda Boudewyns, also of Portsmouth.
Artie Pacheco, of Fall River, has been volunteering at My Brother’s Keeper for around 15 years.
“Some of these people have nothing, I mean you go into their houses and it’s just empty,” he said. “And the looks on their faces — especially the kids at Christmas when you bring the presents — it’s a wonderful feeling.”