They meet on the opening day of the Echo Park Film Center (EPFC) – a Los Angeles-based non-profit media arts organization committed to providing equal and affordable community access to film/video – and the rest is a love story. Now after living in United States for over 20 years they are back in Vancouver!
They recently opened Echo Park Film Centre North (EPFC North), operating at the Moberly Fieldhouse in South Vancouver and are providing free eco-friendly cinematic wonder and plant-based art and animation for any and everyone who comes by.
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are spending more time re-discovering their city as some of their in-person programming at EPFC North has been suspended.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Lisa and Paolo were looking for ways to give back. They asked themselves – “what do we have to offer?” At first they thought an opportunity like delivering for Meals on Wheels (MOW) wouldn’t be an option for them as they don’t have a car; but they quickly realized that “wheels” also referred to bicycles.
Volunteering with MOW was a perfect fit for the pair because they love interacting with people in their neighbourhood and riding their bicycles, while also believing in the importance of accessible and healthy food for all. Paolo says “it’s almost magical – not only is it very satisfying to deliver the meals, there are so many other ‘layers of goodness’ – increasing food security, combatting social isolation, performing an informal safety check, etc.”. They love their neighbourhood in East Van which to them feels like a true melting pot.
Volunteering with MOW gave them a chance to connect even further with their community. Before they started volunteering, they were already interacting with their neighbours with the creation of the FilmCYCLE – an itinerant bike-powered cinema. They screen short films on a mobile screen for cyclists to view while riding. They also take designated breaks in parks for those who aren't comfortable riding and/or may have some mobility issues.
Lisa and Paolo worked out a process that worked well for them – Lisa made the delivery to the client while Paolo stayed with the bikes and meals at each stop. Working together, they became so efficient that they could complete their route in just under an hour (about half the time of our usual delivery routes). Lisa highly encourages others “to join and volunteer with a loved one – be part of the fun!”
In just one hour a week, they made wonderful connections with the clients on their route. “It was always great to see the big smiles and waves from the clients – we knew we had brightened their day.” The couple made deliveries to the same clients each week and were always pleased to hear updates from everyone after each delivery.
Lisa and Paolo are passionate about giving back and “nourishing” the community. As Paolo says “we have been given a lot in our lives for which we are extremely grateful. But you also have to do your part to replenish the system”. In addition to the work that they do through their own non-profit organization through filmmaking, they support other charitable programs throughout the city as well.
Lisa and Paolo made deliveries throughout the spring and summer of 2020 and always looked forward to their Friday delivery route! However, now work and travel plans will be taking them out of Vancouver for the next few months as they focus on some documentary film projects. We thank them and are extremely appreciative of the assistance they provided.
Since 1967, Meals on Wheels has always been a grassroots-type program – members of the community identified a need, and volunteers have stepped in to help serve homebound seniors – for more than 50 years. Our Chinese Meals on Wheels program was launched in 1996. Today, the Western and Chinese MOW programs cover Vancouver and Richmond – we served more than 127,000 meals to seniors at risk of isolation across Vancouver & Richmond. More than half (57%) of our MOW clients are aged 80 or older. Up to 60% of our MOW clients report living alone. Without the help of dedicated volunteers, Care BC could not continue to offer these charitable services.
And to end with a quote from the late, great Freddie Mercury “Get on your bikes and RIDE”! It is fun, easy and there are a number of new friends to be made!!!