Filling hearts and bellies – PSEG employees volunteer at Pittstown Farm

Three years ago, my husband and I moved back to my hometown to raise our children and enjoy all that scenic Hunterdon County has to offer. For months, I drove past a farm called America’s Grow-A-Row on my way to and from work at PSEG, wondering why they never sell any fresh produce in a roadside stand. I had no idea what the farm was about until almost a year later when a friend told me about his volunteer experience with America’s Grow-A-Row, a nonprofit organization dedicated to donating fresh produce to food banks and hunger relief agencies across the mid-Atlantic region.

Their mission: to positively impact as many lives as possible through a volunteer effort of planting, picking, rescuing, and delivering free fresh produce. Moved by the mission behind the organization and knowing about PSEG’s commitment to supporting local communities and employee volunteerism, I immediately wanted to get involved.

As a board member of PSEG’s BALANCE Employee Business Resource Groups (EBRG), I brought this volunteering opportunity back to the board. PSEG EBRGs are voluntary groups of associates that help shape and drive our diverse and inclusive culture.  And after all, the BALANCE group is a caregiver support network. What better way to show our support for fellow caregivers than through the power of volunteerism?

In late June, almost 90 PSEG employees changed their Friday commute and instead of heading into the office or job site, they arrived at America’s Grow-A-Row farm in Pittstown, NJ. Our volunteers spent a sunny, hot, and humid morning with coworkers planting about 12,000 sweet potato vines. What a great day of reuniting old friends, making new friends, seeing familiar faces, and forging new and stronger bonds. It was a true “boots on the ground” day.

From mid-April to mid-November, America’s Grow-a-Row needs many helping hands at their farms.  Farming is seasonal, so volunteers could be doing anything from planting string beans, tomatoes, and cabbage, to harvesting corn, peaches, zucchini and more!  With the help of over 9,000 volunteers annually, America’s Grow-a-Row is able to “Grow, Glean, and Give” over 1.5 million pounds of produce to hunger relief agencies throughout New Jersey, New York City, and eastern Pennsylvania.

The June event was a perfect example of many hands making light work! By noon, 90 proud, dirty, and incredibly sweaty PSEG volunteers helped thousands of families and individuals that they’ll never meet. Our planting efforts will yield 35,000 pounds or 140,000 servings of fresh healthy produce that will be delivered to food desert areas (areas where people lack access to healthy, fresh, affordable produce) in Newark, Jersey City, East Orange, Camden, and Morristown – OUR communities in need of fresh produce. We helped fill some bellies and our hearts at the same time.

PSEG’s has long been instrumental in making life better for our customers by providing safe and reliable utility service. Today, PSEG includes citizenship as a vital part of our public service and we are fortunate to have an outstanding workforce who move us forward while giving back of their own time and support to the causes that matter most to them.

At its core, service is about one person, one moment of need, one good deed at a time. PSEG’s initiative, called Power of One, celebrates employee citizenship and volunteerism, as well as that of individuals in the communities we serve. Click to learn more about the Power of One program.

Our partnership with America’s Grow-A-Row doesn’t end here – we have another volunteer opportunity planned for August.  Our group has committed to bringing 50 volunteers, but we can bring up to 200.  I’ve seen the power of 90 #PSEGProud can do and can’t wait to see more!

Visit Energize to hear the stories of these upstanding citizens and learn how they demonstrate the Power of One.

Kimberly Gelardi, manager – performance & reporting, PSEG Electric Transmission & Distribution – Projects & Construction

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