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Mar 01

HARVEST VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: Maureen Siegel

Posted on March 1, 2021 at 10:17 AM by Allan Warren

Maureen SiegelThis past year brought a wide variety of challenges to the Pierce County Gleaning Project. The pandemic indelibly changed the way we gather in groups, and with some adaptations and strict social distancing, gleaning became a relatively safe outdoor activity. The challenges didn’t stop there, however; a late summer windstorm also brought wildfire smoke to our area from other states, as well as fires right here in Pierce County, making outdoor air dangerous during peak Gleaning season. But through it all, the fruit in our County never stopped growing, nor did hunger and food insecurity in our community.

This year, Gleaning Branch Leader Maureen Siegel went above and beyond, putting in an amazing amount of work to filling in gaps for volunteers who were not able to safely participate this year. Maureen’s service went a long way to make sure everyone connected to the Gleaning Project was still safe and supported.

The numbers are inspiring: Maureen led 50 gleans, and almost single handedly picked 8,672lbs of produce! This fruit made it not only to food banks, but also to neighbors that she knew were being impacted by this difficult year.

Because many shelters, hot meal sites, and food banks were closed during the height of the pandemic, donating the food was its own challenge. Maureen instead decided to drop off food to neighbors and families herself, bringing the fruit to doorsteps for no-contact delivery.
“I just really love harvesting,” said Maureen. “Being in the trees, less waste; keeping the trees healthy...I also love helping the homeowners share their produce. And the fresh air and getting my fingers dirty!”

Maureen loves the social aspect of gleans, and misses getting to know volunteers as they pick together. But since the outdoors was one of the only safe places to be for most of the summer, Maureen said she saw more people than ever walking around the neighborhood, and got to get to know new local community members she might otherwise never have met. This also helped her be able to distribute the fruit and make sure that the local community benefits from local gleans.

We are grateful for Maureen’s energy, dedication, and creativity this year, and like her, we are looking forward to the day when we can safely gather again to celebrate the season and share the harvest.