PLAINFIELD, NJ — Three individuals are recipients of a 2021 Volunteer Spirit Award by the Greater Somerset County YMCA for the role they played as leaders of the Plainfield YMCA Food Security team when COVID-19 brought everything to a halt in March 2020. The group award was presented for their efforts to help distribute over one million meals in the Queen City.

These awards honor Y volunteers "whose generous spirit helps the Y to provide the support and resources needed for everyone to thrive." Rotary of the Plainfields' Michael Townley and Timothy Priano, and Second Ward Councilman Sean McKenna, with the help of Kisha Belton Chubb, helped lead the effort to feed Plainfield by:

  • Securing over 100 volunteers;
  • Distributing 11,492 food boxes;
  • Reaching 8,634 households;
  • Feeding 34,060 individuals, and 1,194 seniors

Townley, who is also on the board of Star Fish Food Pantry, told TAPinto Plainfield, "It was so gratifying to work together on a grassroots project that benefited so many people. Food insecurity is an issue that is always present, but was made so much worse by the COVID-19 pandemic."

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He added, "I am proud to be part of the Rotary Club of the Plainfields and Star Fish Food Pantry, partners with Sean McKenna, Kisha Belton and the YMCA, Timothy Priano and duCret School of Art, and many, many other individuals in the Plainfield Food Security Project. I encourage others to volunteer — it is a very meaningful and rewarding experience."

“During the 18 weeks that I worked on the Plainfield YMCA Food Security Program, it truly showed what a community is about," Priano said, noting, "every week we had a new crew of members to fill in when others were busy. The focus was always to care for those in need, no ego, and everyone asked what we could do to make it run smoothly. Happy to see our nonprofits, together with Sean McKenna, Michael Townley, Kisha Belton Chubb, and the amazing neighbors who worked, and are still working, to feed Plainfield residents in their time of need over a year later.”

See the full list of winners, download the 2021 Volunteer Spirit Awards program herepdf.


McKenna said, "“The Food Insecurity Project in Plainfield started as a way to help those in need during a very difficult and uncertain time, but it quickly morphed into an example of the immense power that community members and non-profits like the Greater Somerset County YMCA can create when they come together, using their respective strengths to focus on the needs of others.  The outpouring of community involvement, charitable organizations and civic clubs was beyond my greatest expectations.  I hope that some day soon we can harness those powers as a nation and reduce the great number of our fellow brothers and sisters who consistently suffer from food insecurity issues." is Plainfield's free online daily newspaper for Plainfield, NJ news. 

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