by Jennifer Powell

As a former executive chef, Patrick Lynch knows quite a bit about food shopping, But he was still daunted by the challenge of getting enough of the right kinds of groceries for a family of seven he had never met and knew little about to survive for two weeks. And yet, he believed that this was what God had called him to do.

The family of seven, a great grandmother, grandmother, mother, father, and three children, were on quarantine due to Covid-19. They had no local support to help them get the supplies they needed during their time of isolation. Patrick had been assigned to the family through Unite Boston’s LOVE THY NEIGHBOR campaign.  Names of families in need are generated by MA-COVID-19 Collaborative at the Department of Public Health and Partners in Health. Volunteers are then contacted and assigned a family. The volunteers purchase and deliver food to the families.

As Patrick pushed a bulging cart down the aisles of Stop & Shop and Whole Foods, he thought not only about the staples like rice and beans but also what extras might make the time easier like cake mix and frosting.

“I wanted to make sure they had what they needed,” he said. “And, I wanted them to have things that would make them more comfortable.”

He figured the cake would be both a treat and something they could do together.

It was the first hot day of the year when he went to deliver the food. Only after carrying the boxes up a flight of stairs did he realize he was at the wrong house. Far from being disgruntled, however, he laughed it off. He didn’t even mind when he realized after dropping off the food that he’d forgotten to get milk and had to find a local store to get it. 

He sees the experience, being a part of caring for this family, as a gift from God. Though the family was in need, Patrick said he was too.

“Every time I feel like I’m separated, Christ reaches out and pulls me back in and says this is what I have for you next,” he explained.

Patrick, who lives in South Boston and is the Director of Dining at an assisted living facility In Jamaica Plain, grew up Catholic. He has been involved at Park Street Church for four years and has been a believer for about that same amount of time. 

He was humbled by the reaction of the family, who offered their praise to God in texts to him.

“We thank God for all things sir. Whatever HE allows to come our ways is for HIS Divine Will. To God be all Adorations, Praises, Thanksgiving….In Jesus’ Mighty Name Amen.”

The LOVE THY NEIGHBOR campaign has just 48 hours to match a family in need with a volunteer. Since the program was launched earlier this month, 65 volunteers from 12 churches across the city have been connected with 21 families – providing all of their groceries for 14 days of quarantine. Initially, volunteers are being matched with families within their zip code, but that may be expanded based on need. 

There is a need for more volunteers so that if one can not accept an invitation on a particular day or time, another is available. To become a helper, fill out this online VOLUNTEER FORM: