Gustavo received a Great Gifts of Gratitude award from Great Western Bank.

Local Hero: Gustavo

Gustavo has been volunteering at Bidwell Riverside Center for over 19 years. Things were hard for him when he first arrived in Iowa from Mexico. Then, a friend brought him to Bidwell’s pantry and he immediately fell in love with our community and the way he was able to get help through us. When asked, he said he comes because he feels welcome. Gustavo was unemployed due to an amputation of part of his leg in May of 2016, caused by diabetes. However, this did not stop him from volunteering with his friends at Bidwell. He truly has become a goodwill ambassador for our pantry, as he helps us every week when the produce truck arrives. Gustavo helps us distribute food, manage the parking lot, run produce and food recovery items to cars, but most importantly, he translates for families who are coming to Bidwell to receive food. He really enjoys helping others, and we love having him around.

Since we began tracking volunteer hours in 2017, is has become clear that Gustavo has been one of our most consistent volunteers:
• 2017: 189 volunteer hours
• 2018: 415 volunteer hours
• 2019: 354 volunteer hours
• 2020: 203 volunteer hours (through 5/26/2020)

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Gustavo has been a vital volunteer for Bidwell. He has helped in the pantry 3-4 days each week, and from March 4th – May 26th, has contributed 159 volunteer hours. He has provided a ton of support to our staff and our clients as we navigate how to best serve those experiencing food insecurity in central Iowa, and we couldn’t do this without him.

About the Bidwell Riverside Center Food & Clothing Pantry: Since 1893, Bidwell Riverside Center has existed to help struggling families meet their basic needs so they can become self-sufficient and ultimately, break the cycle of poverty. The pantry is a one-stop-shop for essential needs: diapers, baby food, clothing, toiletries, and household goods. All of this, as well as food, is available for free to anyone who walks through the doors. Last year, Bidwell distributed approximately 130,000 clothing items, 42,000 diapers, 3,700 units of baby formula or food, and 32,000 toiletry items. Access to food, toiletries, diapers, baby food, formula, clothing, and household items is vital to those living in poverty, and the need is not subsiding.

Bidwell is one of fourteen pantries that operate under the Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) umbrella and provides a food supply meant to sustain families for a three-day period. Clients can receive this three-day supply once per calendar month. Emergency food is purchased by Bidwell or provided through the generous donations of area residents and can be accessed by families every ten days.

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