Nearly three years ago, I became Volunteer Services Manager here at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS). Despite my excitement at this wonderful new opportunity, I felt just a small bit of trepidation. At the time, I worked in SFBFS’ Clothing program and knew that I would miss working directly with my small group of Clothing volunteers on a daily basis. I’d miss our morning talks, catching up on their families’ news and going over the plan for serving our client shoppers that day. However, I now feel like the luckiest staff member at SFBFS, because I get to be in contact with volunteers from all 7 programs at our organization, not just those in the Clothing program.
I get to meet new volunteers when they attend the volunteer orientation. Speaking to a group of 20 to 30 excited faces is a little impersonal, so I look forward to getting to know each and every volunteer as I go over their application and place them into volunteer position. I recently ran into a mother and her two teenage children who started volunteering on Wednesday evenings in the Clothing program. It was great to see the connections they had made so quickly with Tasha, SFBFS’ Clothing Program Manager. The mom thanked me for giving her family the opportunity to serve. I got to thank her for her family’s generous spirit and excitement about serving families here in Sacramento. How cool is that?
I have also been extremely fortunate to form bonds with some of the older volunteers who have been connected to SFBFS for over 20 years. They have been so kind and welcoming to me. I enjoy hearing stories from them about how SFBFS has evolved over the years. I also enjoy benefits such as being gifted lemons from an older volunteer’s productive lemon tree, always being notified of home baked treats available in the Clothing program or receiving Christmas gifts of homemade preserves. Volunteers give more than just their time, they give friendship.
I’m always impressed and humbled by the things that our volunteers do for the community. One volunteer in the Parent Education program recently completed a lactation course on her own time in order to better mentor new parents in breastfeeding techniques. Another is a gourmet chef and takes time away from his own business to cook at SFBFS events for free. Countless others work full time and come straight from work, in full business attire, to bag and distribute groceries at food distributions. To have the privilege of getting to know these amazing individuals, and getting them involved in SFBFS, is something I appreciate every day.
Submitted by Robin Simpson, Volunteer Services Manager