Peter Farquharson, of Binghamton, started out volunteering with children but then switched his focus to helping people fight hunger when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“This is what a neighbor does during a time of need,” he said.
His dedication to volunteering at the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) earned him the honor of being named a CHOW Champion. He is one of about 25 volunteers honored for going above and beyond in their service to CHOW, said Les Aylesworth, director of CHOW, which is a program of the Broome County Council of Churches.
“These folks caught the vision of what we were trying to accomplish at CHOW,” he said. “They were super volunteers. It wasn’t for CHOW’s sake. It was for their neighbors’ sake.”
A Binghamton University student, Farquharson wanted to become more involved in the community. He volunteered as a classroom aide at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School on the city’s South Side. Then the pandemic hit in March, closing schools and putting an end to his volunteer work at the school.
“I said, ‘If I am going to stay here, I want to contribute somehow to the community,’” he said.
He started thinking about some of the children he worked with who received free or reduced price lunches at school and worried that they would not have enough food during the pandemic. He began looking for other places to volunteer. He contacted the United Way of Broome County and was referred to CHOW.
“He kept coming back every single day,” Aylesworth said of Farquharson. “He’s a person who demonstrated a lot of good characteristics.”
Farquharson said he was happy to help and believes everyone should help in some way.
“Everybody has something to give,” he said. “Everybody, to some extent, has the capacity to improve the lives of others.”
As a college student, he’s enjoyed his time in Binghamton and hopes to find a job in this area after graduation. He thinks all college students should do some volunteer work in the community.
“Living here should mean that you also have some sort of commitment to the community and not just the school,” he said. “Students should volunteer and get to know the people who live here.”
Students are busy with classes, writing papers and socializing. But they should still find the time to give back, he said.
“Don’t insulate yourself either on campus or in your student housing complex,” he said. “Be part of the community.”
Hometown: Deer Park, Long Island.
Family: Parents Bruce and Rosemarie Farquharson; three brothers.
Education: Senior majoring in art history at Binghamton University.
Career: Unsure of career plans, but may work in the field of improving food access for people in need.
How to help: To volunteer or donate to CHOW, go online to broomecouncil.net/chow/how-you-can-help.