Savino Brings Much to the Table for CDR
06/23/2021 08:30 a.m. EST
As Community Dining Room’s (CDR) part-time Volunteer/Program coordinator, you could say Andrea Savino brings much to the table.
Beginning Tuesday, July 6, Andrea is helping CDR kick off seven fun weeks of free Summer Meal Tuesday Night Take-Out and Activities. The food and fun is free for families and will be set up at the spacious CDR parking lot at 30 Harrison Avenue, right near CDR’s kitchen doors, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Located in downtown Branford, non-profit CDR programming is there to assist community members in need along the shoreline from East Haven to Old Saybrook.
“While we can’t be on the Branford Green for summer meals this year, we can do something in our parking lot!” says Andrea of the annual Summer Meal element of CDR’s Tuesday Night Family dinner program, which also couldn’t take place last year on the Branford Green due to the pandemic. “So I decided to have a Fourth of July party on Tuesday, July 6 as our kick-off summer meal. We’re going to have a hotdog truck and an ice cream truck; I’m going to have games for the kids; we’ll do a limbo contest with prizes; and we’ll have music and some other different activities.”
Andrea plans to have the summer family dinner fun continue in the CDR parking lot every Tuesday night from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. through Aug. 17 (in the event of rain, kids’ craft kits will be provided with family take-out meals). CDR will also be distributing new Healthy Snack packs for kids beginning July 6 at each Tuesday night family dinner program, says Andrea.
“It’s part of our Healthy Meal Initiative. We’ll give them seven days of healthy snacks they can pick up at Tuesday family dinner nights,” she says. “We’re going to have bento boxes filled with things like fruit, granola bars, raisins, apple sauce, and cheese sticks.”
Speaking of packs, Andrea’s also reaching out the community right now to help her fill dozens of backpacks with school supplies in time for Branford kids in need to have them for back-to-school.
“You just have to show proof of [Branford] residency and receive a back pack filled with donations of school supplies,” she says. “We’re going to give them out [to registered participants] on Aug. 17, and right now, we’re asking the community to donate supplies.”
A donations list is posted as a flyer on CDR’s Facebook page (@CommunityDiningRoom06405 ). School supply donations can be dropped off now at Branford Police Department, 33 Laurel Street; at Branford First Selectman’s Office in Town Hall, 1019 Main Street, or the Branford Community House, 46 Church Street.
Andrea’s also helping CDR to help families in need by overseeing the Diaper Bank at CDR, which will increase its availability for pick up of free diapers from once a month to twice a month during Tuesday family night dinners in July and August (July 13 and 27 and Aug. 10 and 24). Donations of diapers are also greatly appreciated. Families in need of diapers can register to receive them through Branford Early Learning Center, which collaborates with CDR on the program. More details are available on the CDR website communitydiningroom.org.
Another great reason to visit the CDR website very soon will be to learn more about CDR’s promotion and link to the “Give Healthy” food drive program, says Andrea.
“We’re going to have a link to Give Healthy on our website, and you can go there learn how to hold your own food drive [for CDR]. And that will help us with our Healthy Initiative, because the food they collect includes fresh produce and other healthy foods,” says Andrea.
A Branford resident with many talents, Andrea has only been on the job as CDR’s part-time volunteer/program coordinator since May. Let’s just say she likes to stay busy.
“I actually have quite a few jobs,” she says, laughing. “A lot of people know me because of my work in the restaurant business.”
Andrea currently assists her good friends and owners of D’Orlando’s Pizza in Branford (at 1 Jefferson Road), is the beverage manager of Sachem Head Yacht Club in Guilford, and works with shoreline-based La Cucina Catering. She’s also a contractor with Simply Serving of Orange.
“I love it!” says Andrea of her busy schedule, which she also stretched to include volunteering at CDR last December.
Andrea started volunteering in the kitchen and was soon asked to be CDR’s Friday volunteer cook. She was on that volunteer job for few months when the opportunity came up to apply for the part-time volunteer/program coordinator position. With her diverse and prolific career background, Andrea was more than qualified. In addition to the food service industry, she has a background in human resources and experience working with volunteer training in the non-profit world.
“For the past almost eight years I was the training liaison for a non-profit, Trauma Recovery, working with volunteers all over the country,” says Andrea.
Another role in her work life, as a real estate agent, included working with Coldwell Banker, first in Branford, then in Hamden, for a number of years.
“I used to work right here in Branford as a realtor, so I’m really glad to be back in downtown Branford again, this time with CDR,” says Andrea.
While the pandemic is currently keeping the dining room doors closed at CDR, plans are in the works to reopen by fall, if not sooner. Andrea is working hard right now to reinvigorate the ranks of volunteers needed to help out now and in the coming months.
Andrea is also hoping to see a lot of former volunteers return to CDR, post-pandemic. She’s holding monthly volunteer training sessions for old and new volunteers at present, with the next planned for Wednesday, June 30 from 5 to 6 p.m. at CDR; followed by another session on Wednesday, July 28. To sign up, email Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org.