Sindy Wayne is a member of the Newton Food Pantry leadership team behind one of our newest and most exciting initiatives – the Newton Community freedge. A long-time nonprofit administrator and fundraiser, Sindy’s first encounter with NFP was as a volunteer with Newton Neighbors Helping Neighbors, helping with food deliveries. After one shift, she says “I was so impressed with NFP’s operation, I asked if they needed volunteers.” In October, she started volunteering on Wednesday mornings to pack produce.
A few months into her volunteer service, Sindy learned that there was a plan underway to expand the Newton Food Pantry’s impact beyond the weekly grocery delivery and pickup. A free, 24-hour resource for food and other basic necessities that would be maintained by members of the community. “Regina (Wu) and Megan (Russel), NFP Board members, had done all of the research and groundwork to figure out what it would take to open something like this – they just needed an operations person and volunteer coordinator to help implement it.” Sindy jumped in with both feet.
After months of securing a space, recruiting and training volunteer team leaders, bringing on business partners and managing all the logistics of launching a community-facing initiative, the freedge opened to the public in March of 2021. “The response has been extraordinary. From all perspectives – it has exceeded expectations,” she says. “The community donations and commitment of our volunteers and business partners have blown us away, and the number of our neighbors who take advantage of this new resource is uncountable. People are really embracing this.”
While the role was all encompassing in the beginning, the success of the freedge has brought more volunteers to the project and she has been able to step back. “At the moment, the systems we have put in place are working well and my role is troubleshooting problems,” she says, “The day to day operations are being managed by our dedicated team captains. They have risen to the occasion and are operating independently, making this a true collaborative effort. I’m not constantly in the mix now, which is exactly how we envisioned it.”
Except for a short stint in West Roxbury, Sindy and her husband Saul Weingart have lived in Newton since 1994. Her sons Ben and Jonah, now grown, went to Newton South. They love to be outside, and can be seen around town walking their dog, “Cold Spring Park saved me during COVID.” she says. She is deeply dedicated to giving back to the communities that have shaped her life, serving as a long-term board member of an overnight camp she attended as a teen and supporting causes that help to build Israeli/Palestinian coexistence.