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Volunteer Carol Merkel: Making a Commute to Make a Difference

Volunteer Carol Merkel

Carol on the God’s Love volunteer terrace

Carol Merkel was caring her mother during a long illness when she attended a conference on death and dying that God’s Love founder, Ganga Stone, was presenting in the early 90s. Ganga shared about the work God’s Love was doing, at that time home-delivering meals to New Yorkers who were homebound with AIDS, and Carol “thought it was phenomenal!

What a concept, to give healthy meals to people who were so sick with AIDS and in desperate need.”

The work of God’s Love hit home with Carol, who understood the effort it took to prepare, and the need for, healthy food for someone who is sick. Carol felt emotionally connected to the work due to her mother’s illness and the challenges of caregiving. Carol’s mother had a home nurse who provided care during the day. One day after work, Carol came home and the nurse had started dinner. She says, “I could have hugged her… it was such an amazing, loving thing to do. She had the care and compassion to provide care to my mom beyond nursing, to be a human being providing the necessity of food to help her get better. Food is love. I have never forgotten that.”

Carol has worked in healthcare management for over 30 years. In the late 90s she became a donor and she began volunteering in 2013. Carol lives and works in Long Island so it took a little planning to figure out how to add volunteering in her schedule. After trying Tuesday nights for several years, she’s found her new volunteering home on Sunday mornings.

Carol takes her mother’s memory with her to each volunteer shift, and the care that she saw so generously given to her. She aims to put her love and care in to each carrot chopped and meal packed out on her Sunday mornings. Carol’s family and friends know that Sundays are her “day to chop” and have joined her in the work. This year, Carol did a Thanksgiving delivery shift with her niece – it was their birthday gifts to one another.

A few years ago, Carol purchased a “Tile for Love” in memory of her parents. The tile lives in our lobby and each week upon arrival to her kitchen shift, Carol stops to take a look, remember them both, and feel the connection and the love.

Despite the commute from her Long Island home, nothing deters Carol from her volunteer shift – and she keeps coming back for the mission, and for her friends. She tells us “I’ve met so many wonderful people. We are from all walks of life, yet united through this amazing organization.”

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