COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Since 1996, Candika Marinelli has been volunteering for the River Fund Food Pantry, an organization that delivers food, clothing and other necessary items to those in need around New York City. Every Saturday morning, River Fund’s Richmond Hill pantry serves over 500 people. Mobile pantries also deliver items to people at local parks and twice a month, they set up camp in Coney Island to hand out goods. When Marinelli first joined the River Fund Food Pantry there was a lack of financial support, so she learned how to write grant proposals and raise money for her cause. As finances increased, so did the number of donations and volunteers. “When people see what it’s really like to serve someone, they want to get others involved,” said Marinelli.
PERSONAL: Marinelli resides in Suffolk County and is the proud mother of two sons ages 23 and 29. She has been happily married since 1977. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, gardening and reading.
OCCUPATION: When she is not volunteering with the food pantry, Marinelli works as a chiropractor on Long Island.
CHALLENGE: Marinelli feels as though her biggest challenge is lack of time. “I always feel there’s more that I can be doing, but not enough time,” said Marinelli.
FAVORITE MEMORY: Marinelli’s first volunteer experience was especially moving. She assisted at a Halloween event in Manhattan for children living with HIV and AIDS. Marinelli recalls the sheer joy of the children, regardless of their illnesses. “They were just kids,” she said. There was face painting and a musician who serenaded everyone on the guitar. “For me, it was another life-changing moment,” said Marinelli.
INSPIRATION: Marinelli occasionally seeks guidance from a spiritual leader, Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, who teaches the importance of selfless service and serving someone you do not know. Marinelli uses this mantra as her life philosophy. “I am fairly blessed in my life and getting to help someone else is very fulfilling,” said Marinelli.