Brian O’Leary

Brian O'Leary at Elmhurst Food Pantry filling a brown paper bag

Brian O’Leary of Elmhurst is well known throughout his community for his volunteer efforts over the years. For example, he annually participates as event staff for the Elmhurst St. Patrick’s Day Parade. O’Leary has a passion for assisting with the logistics of large gatherings through his volunteering but, of course, he realizes that current restrictions on such events have pointed to the need for him to diversify his participation. In the present, this largely means that Brian O’Leary of Elmhurst has dedicated time to helping community members during the coronavirus pandemic.

While O’Leary has participated in volunteer work for quite some time, he notably began to increase his efforts after making the decision to volunteer more for Lent. This started with volunteering at DuPage Habitat for Humanity Restore in Addison, IL. Brian O’Leary volunteered at the organization several times before they closed due to COVID-19 concerns. The experience of volunteering for Habitat for Humanity Restore awakened an urge for O’Leary to find more opportunities to donate his time, eventually leading him to the Elmhurst-Yorkfield Food Pantry. The Elmhurst-Yorkfield Food Pantry has many seniors participating as regular volunteers, but the shelter in place mandate made it so that they could not easily volunteer for fear of contracting coronavirus. Brian O’Leary, recognizing the need for younger support for handling tasks such as lifting and packing, made the decision to continue volunteering through the health crisis.

With Brian O’Leary of Elmhurst and other dedicated volunteers at the helm, the Elmhurst-Yorkfield Food Pantry has been able to provide food to the greater Elmhurst community by implementing effective procedures for the safety of those they serve. Before the pandemic, clients would simply come to the pantry during service times to select their items. In the interest of safety during the health crisis, clients now stay in their cars to have their groceries delivered to them by volunteers. The implemented procedural changes have ensured that the food pantry is busier than ever, but the organization continues to operate efficiently due to the concentrated efforts of its volunteers.

Brian O’Leary of Elmhurst strongly believes individuals that are able should find their preferred way to give back to the community or donate to coronavirus relief efforts. When we think about the ways in which we can assist others during this time, O’Leary notes that we tend to believe that volunteering is the be-all end-all of participation. Brian O’Leary of Elmhurst recognizes that this is just one facet of constructively assisting the community, and there are several other effective ways to lend a helping hand. After all, there are several parts of the community that are impacted by the virus and there are many organizations dedicated to these different groups. Some organizations and individuals are concentrating their efforts on supporting members of the medical community, many of whom have sacrificed a great deal to take care of our sick over the past few months. Some members of the community have opted to donate money to organizations that align with their passions, and others have seen fit to help out on an individual level by assisting with tasks such as grocery shopping for those that have been affected by the virus. What is most important is that we find our niche and assist in any way that we can.