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Volunteer Mark Porter: Giving – But Also Getting Back For More than 30 years

Thirty years ago, Mark Porter felt something was missing in his life. New to New York City and starting his career, he thought giving back to the community would be something he might want to do. At a street fair, he filled out a number of applications for volunteer positions and about a week later, he received a call from God’s Love We Deliver. He’s been a loyal volunteer ever since.

“I’ve always been on the Wednesday night kitchen shift,” Mark said. “We’re the shift that can do anything. Chop vegetables, pack meals, if there’s something that needs to be done, we’re the crew to do it.”

That pride represents a dedicated team of volunteers that Mark considers friends. “Being part of this organization has thoroughly enriched my life,” he said. “There’s always been a core group of us on Wednesday nights, but there’s also been hundreds of volunteers who have given their time to the shift over the years. Many have become my close friends.”

Mark describes the group as a microcosm of New York – actors, educators, students, Wall Street titans, architects, writers, etc. from all over the city coming together to help their neighbors.

In the early years, Mark said that the volunteer base had a much closer connection to the people the organization was serving. “AIDS was decimating the city. Many of the volunteers had lost a family member or friend to the disease. I remember one woman who had attended funeral after funeral of her neighbors. This was a place where people could come and feel that they were truly helping in the crisis,” he said.

That sense of helping continues even though GLWD’s mission has expanded, and that personal connection is still apparent. “Every meal had a label with the recipient’s name so we can see who we’re sending this life sustaining food to. It makes our time together exceptionally meaningful, and it truly feels like we are contributing to the community.”

Over the years, Mark has brought more than 30 volunteers to GLWD, including his husband, friends and coworkers.

“When people ask me what I do at God’s Love I always say come see,” he said. “Many people have taken me up on the invitation to volunteer and then stayed on for years.”

As much as Mark feels his work for the organization is about giving, he also believes he gets much back. “If you’re feeling sad, depressed, lonely, it’s great to walk into God’s Love and see your friends. It’s kind of like a group therapy session,” he said. “No matter how bad your day has been, you’re there volunteering for people who are sick and can’t shop or cook for themselves. Doing this work helps you feel better about everything in life.”

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