At 5:00am on any given day while many of us are sound asleep, Jerry Nurse often is on his way to help feed fellow New Yorkers.

The East New York Native, who works nights as a security guard, volunteers multiple times a week, serving meals at soup kitchens and handing out produce at one of City Harvest’s Mobile Markets.

“I started volunteering when I was a student at Brooklyn College,” said Nurse. “I fell in love with volunteering, and I just kept going and going and going …”

Nurse first began volunteering with City Harvest in 2018, after hearing about the organization’s work while volunteering at New York Cares. “I would come from my job when I get off at eight o’clock in the morning, and I would come to the mobile markets,” said Nurse, who also volunteers for the Golden Harvest Food Pantry in Bed-Stuy.

Jerry Nurse volunteers with City Harvest at their Bed-Stuy Mobile Market. Photo: Christopher Edwards for BK Reader.

City Harvest is the City’s largest food rescue organization. Founded by volunteers in 1982, the organization has distributed more than a billion pounds of food to New Yorkers over its history, according to the organization, and more than 270 million pounds of food since the start of the pandemic.

The organization distributes food to thousands of New Yorkers during their bi-monthly “Mobile Markets” at eight locations across the city. This past Wednesday, hundreds of Brooklynites were served at City Harvest’s Brooklyn Mobile Market location at the Tompkins houses in Bed-Stuy.

City Harvest hosts a bi-monthly Mobile Market at the Tompkins Houses in Bed-Stuy. Photo: Christopher Edwards for BK Reader.

“Volunteering is my way of contributing something positive to society,” said Nurse.

For the month of April, which is National Volunteer Month, Jerry’s fellow volunteers and colleagues with City Harvest are celebrating him as Brooklyn’s “Most Dedicated Volunteer.’”

Over his years of volunteering, Nurse has gained a reputation for his constant presence and dedication to serving at food pantries, soup kitchens and markets.

“I’m just glad to be a part of the process of helping to feed food insecure families,” said Nurse. I know the food is being put to good use.”

Jerry Nurse volunteers with City Harvest at their Bed-Stuy Mobile Market. Photo: Christopher Edwards for BK Reader.

Nurse’s fellow volunteers are in awe of his dedication: “He will run from one volunteer assignment to the next,” said Thomas Chen, a fellow volunteer with City Harvest.

“Who would get up at 5:00 in the morning to work for free?” Chen continued. “I know these CEOs of big companies like Apple, they get up around that hour because they get billion-dollar compensation. He gets absolutely nothing, and this guy gets up to feed hungry people.”

City Harvest officials have also taken note of Jerry’s contributions: “Jerry was one of the first people I ever met, [Working at City Harvest]” said Alex Guyton, Volunteer Programs Coordinator at City Harvest. Guyton says Nurse represents the “quiet passion and dedication our volunteers have.”

Albert DeAcre, a manager for City Harvest’s Mobile Markets says Nurse has become instrumental to the organization: “He gives me like a little bit of a calm when I do see him, because he’s always willing to help,” said DeAcre. “He’s always willing to assist and he’s more than happy to do it.”

City Harvest hosts a bi-monthly Mobile Market at the Tompkins Houses in Bed-Stuy. Photo: Christopher Edwards for BK Reader.

City Harvest will host its annual gala on Tuesday, April 26, in Manhattan.

“Everyone should volunteer because we all need help with something in life,” said Nurse. “You can’t go through life and not need any help.”

Christopher Edwards

Christopher Edwards is a Brooklyn-based writer and Journalism student at Baruch College.

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