Food drive turns into non-profit helping immigrant families in need

Food drive turns into non-profit helping immigrant families in need
Posted at 9:03 PM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 08:06:26-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A local business owner is now helping to put food on the table for immigrant families in need.

Natasha Lemus owns and operates a tax business in North Chesterfield. She stayed open when agencies closed during the government shutdown in 2020. People who spoke little English came into her office for help finding the resources they needed to survive the pandemic.

"I feel like I am advocating for a community that has kept themselves silent because of fear," Natasha said while explaining why she is passionate about her service.

The wife and mother of four couldn't just sit at her desk and do nothing. She began finding answers to questions and collecting food that the families are accustomed to eating.

"I was connecting them to great locations that were serving and doing food drives, but a couple of families came back and said we are looking for more real food, and I asked, what is real food? They said we need limes, fresh produce, cornflour, just beans," Natasha said. " So I looked at my team around me in my office, and I said hey, you know what, let's do a food drive to serve the community, and let's connect with local businesses," she added.

Natasha quickly realized her team was making a big difference.

"It was a one-day event and it became an everyday event because we continued to receive local support from the community," Natasha said.

To meet the growing demand, she established the Waymakers Foundation, a nonprofit that serves the immigrant community. The organization now feeds about 250 families a week.

"Our phone lines are non-stop 24/7," she said.

But, Natasha says there is never enough to help everyone who asks for assistance.

"The demand goes beyond what we can do," she said.

Natasha says Waymakers is surviving month-to-month and needs skilled volunteers to help fill a variety of roles. The organization is also preparing to help 100 families that have just entered the country. If you'd like to donate via PayPal visit the foundation's website here.

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