MIAMI – Kristin Guerin is very familiar with lights, camera,s and action. For 10 years, she was a professional actor in New York City.
But, when the lights went out on Guerin’s show, the role of a lifetime found her.
“March 2020 happened, the show closed, and we started buddy system,” said Guerin.
Guerin is now the CEO of Buddy System MIA, a food nonprofit that began by pairing volunteers with people who didn’t have access to food distributions.
“We were just going to work for about two to three months and help support people throughout the pandemic, which we thought at the time was going to be a few weeks,” said Guerin.
Since then, Buddy System MIA has grown into a robust nonprofit with seven employees, 1,400 volunteers, and serving about 5,000 people.
The organization continues its homebound food access program, and in 2021, it introduced community refrigerators.
The refrigerators are public, outdoor refrigerators, painted by local artists, and stationed across the most vulnerable Miami-Dade County neighborhoods.
Earlier this month, Local 10 was there when Buddy System MIA unveiled its tenth refrigerator in Florida City.
“Anybody can walk up and take what you need, leave what you can,” said Guerin. “It’s our motto, so we’re very big on community support.”
As part of Food for Thought, Local 10 and Publix Super Markets teamed up to stock the new refrigerator with fresh produce and other healthy foods. We also filled the adjacent pantry with dry goods.
More than 100 families received nutritious foods from the food distribution line, the community fridge, and the pantry.
“We have a lot of people that require special help and this is the stuff that we want to do to show them---just to give them that encouragement,” said City of Florida City Vice Mayor Walter Thompson.
Local 10 Director of Community Relations Mayte Padron spoke with young, working mom Briana Montalvo, who was picking up food for her and her 11-month-old.
“All these little things here are going to help a lot,” said Montalvo. “It’s going to cook full meals. I need it. We need it.”
“We love to see what Buddy System is doing because it’s the same concept that we’re trying to ensure that people can get access to food,” said Robyn Hankerson Printemps, Publix community relations manager. “So, it really means a lot for us to be in this community here today to serve and do what we do the best.”
For more information on Buddy System MIA, visit https://www.buddysystemmia.com/