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Volunteers help feed the mind, body and soul at the May Dugan Center on Cleveland’s West Side

Posted at 7:54 AM, Feb 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-18 18:21:05-05

CLEVELAND — It is Random Acts of Kindness Week and what better way to show love than by helping others. Every fourth Wednesday, it looks like a farmer’s market inside the May Dugan Center on the West Side of Cleveland.

It is their food, clothing, and produce distribution day that serves more than 5,000 people a year.

The food here is free. Goodwill has paid the price so those in need don't go hungry.

"Today, we're going to have about 40 volunteers," said Rick Kemm, Executive director at the May Dugan Center.

Sue Nerlinger is among the roughly 40 volunteers helping with the event.

"Helping people means so much to me," she said.

She has volunteered at May Dugan for about eight years.

Sue has multiple sclerosis and says volunteering allows her to share the support she's been shown.

"It is my way of being able to give back," she said. "I want to be there for people in need - even if it's just someone to talk to or somebody to give you a hug or a smile."

Carolyn Bentley first came to May Dugan with her company for a group volunteer event, and gratitude brings her back.

"I only volunteer one day a month because that's what fits into my schedule right now," she said. She hoping to do more soon.

"I think it's a good reminder of how fortunate I am to not have to worry about where my next meal is coming from or where I'm going to sleep at night."

"It is a life-saver for me and my family," said John Britton. He was patiently waiting in the hallway gripping the cards that'll get him food.

"There's just not enough money to go around and food's hard to come by," he said.

John has been dealt a heavy hand; he's battling pancreatic cancer. He calls life -- and the volunteers -- a blessing.

"They're so kind," he said.

Ronetta Ingram Bady volunteers at May Dugan out of love for people.

"And it makes me grateful for all that I've been brought through," she said.

And for perspective you can't buy.

"It's an inner love, an inner peace that I get from helping other people."

May Dugan also needs volunteer tutors to help people studying for their GED or refugees learning English.

Feeding the mind, body and soul; the director says they can't do it without you.

"May Dugan would be lost without volunteers," said Kemm.

Greater Cleveland Volunteers can connect you if you'd like to help at the May Dugan Center or somewhere else. The nonprofit helps connect people to volunteer opportunities that match their passion and schedule. Find more info here.

RELATED: Here are ways to do good in Cleveland during Random Acts of Kindness Week