Follow fun updates as well as interesting stories about clients, volunteers and supporters of SFBFS

February 29, 2012

Thankful for SFBFS

Before I got hired on with Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) in 2009, I was a volunteer at SFBFS for six years. Living right next door to SFBFS, I began volunteering because it was an opportunity to be around positive people and turn my life around. Volunteering at SFBFS is how I gained my work knowledge because I helped in several different departments and programs. In 2009, SFBFS employees asked if I was interested in becoming an employee with SFBFS. I saw this as an opportunity to move forward in my life.

Growing up and living in Oak Park I’ve seen a lot. But at SFBFS I’ve learned a lot about people and about myself too. I’ve learned to not be the old person that I was but be the new person that I am. I’ve been learning that if you give respect you’ll get it back.

Today I am grateful for everything that SFBFS has done for me. In return I give my full dedication to helping others in need. In the near and far future I hope that we can continue to provide services to people that are in need.

Submitted by Freddie Jimenez, Warehouse Assistant

Driving for SFBFS

It was December 10, 2008 and I was arriving home from work burdened with disappointing news for my family. I had just been laid off. With a new born in my wife’s arms and that look of, “Oh no what do we do now,” I felt scared for the future for the first time in my life. Fast forward 2 ½ years and I had become Mr. Mom; diapers, runny nose, doctor’s appointments, etc.

I did what I had to do so we could stay afloat. Life has made me versatile. One day on my way home from helping a senior citizen clean her pond I received a phone call from Steve at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services regarding my application for an open driver position. I had the interview on Tuesday at 10AM. I showed up at 9:40AM and I felt like everyone does when they go to an interview, “What if this could be the one?” Everything went well, but I didn’t get the position.

Once again I felt uncertain of the future. I know now who got the position. It was my friend Ross Fontanilla. God works in mysterious ways. Two months later Steve called once again to set up another interview. Needles to say, I got it. I was very proud to be part of such a committed organization. Throughout the first few weeks I was amazed with all of the work and anxious to give the best of me to this incredible cause. Driving had always been my forte. When I was able to meet the donors and personally thank them for their help it was great. One day I was asked to help out at one of SFBFS’ food distributions. I enjoyed it very much and it humbles me to say that our clients help me as much as we help them. Hunger has no discrimination nor does poverty or illiteracy. I am honored to do God’s work.

Submitted by Victor Martinez, SFBFS Driver

February 28, 2012

Adult Education’s Transition into the New Education & Technology Center

The Adult Education program has been operating in the new Education & Technology Center for one full week and these are some of my observations. Big changes, even when the changes are exciting and welcome improvements, make people anxious, me included. After a couple of missteps I reminded myself to take deep breaths and to enjoy the process of growth and expansion. I reminded myself that a successful transition would take weeks and months as we discover how best to inhabit and make the best use of this beautiful new facility. Where to place my desk, my photocopier and my files, how to best accommodate students and volunteer tutors and, after hundreds of phone calls, who would attend tutoring on our first day of expanded services? I reminded myself that all these questions would be answered without my worry. Besides, my desk is still in the warehouse and I work just fine off of a portable table.

I love my old photocopier like you love an old and beloved wreck of a car, it’s an emotional attachment. Early on the first day I was beginning to think I’d need to place a service call because my tired and old machine refused to make more than 2 or 3 copies without a jam. Just at that minute a tech walked through the door with a brand new machine and I immediately forgot any love I had for the old copier.

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services’ Adult Education program served 70 students with the invaluable support of 19 volunteers on our first day in the Education & Technology Center. We had room to breathe and did not have to use an overflow setting for tutoring. Some blessings are bigger than others! There was a late change to our furniture order so the cubicles for our tutoring room have not been delivered yet and students and tutors also work just fine off of a portable table. They had books and pens and pencils, calculators, erasers and most importantly they had each other. The cubicles will come without my worry.

To me, providing service in the Education & Technology Center compared to providing service in the old red brick CLC, the small facility that used to house Adult Education, feels like the difference between a Korean War MASH unit and a 21st Century ICU. Lives were saved in the old MASH units and lives were changed in the old red brick CLC, often with laughter and occasionally with tears and sometimes against the odds. But the need is enormous and so much more can be accomplished. The expanded services we will be able to provide in our new facility will touch thousands of families and often more than one generation. We will continue to laugh and sometimes cry and continue to learn. I have memories to cherish from the CLC but my hope lies firmly in the future we may craft in the Education & Technology Center.

Hour by hour I become more and more grateful for the opportunity the Education & Technology Center gives us to improve the lives of our students. When I slow down and look at their faces, I think our students and volunteers agree.

Submitted by Kelley Jones, Adult Education Program Assistant

February 27, 2012

Joining SFBFS’ Family

I was hired on at Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services in May of 2011 as an Operations Truck Driver. Just a few weeks into my new employment, I was asked to fill in at Guest Services, the area where donors drop off in kind donations such as clothing, food and educational supplies. To my blessing the position became available for full time. After an interview, I was offered the position as Guest Services Coordinator in June of 2011. The transition from being a truck driver to Guest Services Coordinator was fairly easy as both positions were rooted in customer services. Now I navigate my chair for a right or left turn to my laptop computer to do data entry or other work functions at my desk instead of trying to navigate a 10,000 lb vehicle through traffic or trying to park in a crowded and tight parking lot.

I am so grateful for this golden opportunity. SFBFS gave me a chance to regain my confidence after being unemployed for nearly three years and countless job searches and interviews. I am now able to provide for my children and myself and live our organization’s mission of being self-sufficient and financially independent.

Working in Guest Services has also made me humble when I see people looking for help for food or clothing every day. It reminds me that we can all be so close to needing assistance. It also reminds me to be grateful for what I have. I am also blown away by the volunteers who show up every day to help our organization; I now know that they are all angels from heaven. I am also proud to be a part of the staff at SFBFS, who relentlessly help people and who are so giving and caring.

I have the best of both worlds when it comes to family. First, my immediate family and secondly my new SFBFS family, ALOHA NUI LOA.

Submitted by Ross Fontanilla, Guest Services Coordinator

February 23, 2012

Falling in Love with Succulents

As a native Arizonan, I am quite used to desert ambiance. Most of my life has been based in the Phoenix Valley, surrounded by dry, sandy soil and prickly saguaros. People decorate their yards with rocks and seaweed-like cactus (in the 80’s they frivolously landscaped with thirsty grass!) Once my puppy got attacked by a jumping cholla that resulted in an emergency veterinary hospital trip and a pitifully dopey dachshund. Needless to say, the southwest’s scrubby, barren landscape holds no appeal for me.

I naturally gravitate toward the lush, tropical jungles of Asia and South America and adopted a passion for gardens, greenery, trees, growth, life and the likes. Upon moving to California, I eagerly anticipated an abundance of farmers markets, forests and hot springs and progressively earthy minded folk (of whom I’m still in search of, hit me up people!), all the while exploring, learning and observing my new home. To my surprise, one of the most strikingly beautiful plants I find here are the succulents!

Succulents come in panoply of varieties; from rose-tinged lotus-like rosette Aeoniums to the distinguished, oriental Crassula ovate (Jade, or Money tree) to even the dripping, tropical Rosary Vine (Ceropegiawoodii) seen cascading over balconies in Midtown.

One of my favorite new projects this spring is to create a vertical succulent wall, perhaps subconsciously melding my past and present, à la tropical desert mode.

Stop by this spring to see what gardening tricks Courtney is up to in SFBFS’ new Demonstration Garden.

Submitted by Courtney Jallo, AmeriCorps VISTA

February 15, 2012

Erika's Memorable Moment

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services’ (SFBFS) 40 staff members and thousands of dedicated, long time volunteers commit countless hours and boundless amounts of energy to serve this community. Every week one of these staff members or volunteers will be featured answering the question: ‘What is your most memorable moment at SFBFS?”

SFBFS’ Food Program Assistant, Erika Ledbetter, agreed to be the first staff member to answer this question.

“My memorable moment was this past Run to Feed the Hungry. While setting up the water and snack tables the day before the race, a truck trailer hitch began rolling down a slight hill in the parking lot at the Scottish Rite. I, along with five or six men, sprang into action to stop it from hitting anyone or anything. The funny part is that I, a petite female, ran as fast as I could to assist these perfectly capable men, like my little strength could make a difference. But I realized that no matter how small a role you play, it's important to the overall picture.”

Submitted by Jessy Wei, AmeriCorps VISTA

February 14, 2012


Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services is proud to be a partner in the SMUD EnergyHELP program. This program is a service for low income individuals, which provides them with a one-service of up to $200.00 to sustain their electric service as well as enrolls them in the Energy Assistance Program Rate (EAPR) of 30% discount on their bill. SMUD and Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services have partnered to assist families experiencing a financial crisis. This service is made possible by SMUD customers through charitable donations. Every year SMUD customers are approached to make a donation to the program to help their community.

Who qualifies to receive assistance from the EnergyHELP program? Individuals must meet SMUD qualifications for the EAPR discount which is dependent on the number of people living in the household and the monthly income for the household.

Many families are interested in signing up for the program, but unfortunately you cannot call to request to be chosen for this program. Tuesday through Friday, SMUD uses a lottery to randomly select households who have recently received disconnect notices. Customers chosen from this lottery are put on a list. The list is then split between Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and SMUD’s three other partner organizations (Salvation Army, Folsom Cordova Community Center and Travelers Aid). These agencies then call the selected SMUD customers and book an appointment.

Through the generous donations from contributors, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services help 3,372 low income families keep the lights on in a time of crisis just last year. Thank you for helping families in need.

Submitted by Deborah DeCuir, SMUD EngergyHELP Representative

February 7, 2012

Meet new staff at SFBFS

With the official opening of Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services’ (SFBFS) new Education & Technology Center, there have been many exciting, new changes and additions to SFBFS, including new staff members. Below meet three of the newest additions to SFBFS’ family!

Aaron Shoup, Parent Education Program Assistant
Q: What did you do before coming to SFBFS?
A: I graduated from
UC San Diego, with a B.A. in Philosophy, in 2008. Since then I have been trying to figure out what to do with my life. Last semester I started the Mechanical Electrical Technology (MET) Program at Sac City College. I am working towards a certificate in MET, with an emphasis on Wastewater Management. That is a job that is very similar to what I did in the Navy.

Q: How did you hear about your current position at SFBFS? What made you want to work at SFBFS?
A: I was referred by the
Calworks, work-study, person at Sac City. I loved the idea of working for an organization that helps the community. Helping people is really important to me.

Q: What are you looking forward to in your first year?
A: I am looking forward to moving into the new building and learning more about the Parent Education

Q: How has your first few days at SFBFS been? What are your liking so far?
A: All of the people here have been so nice. It is great to
work with an organization where everyone really cares. We also have the greatest volunteers working here as well.

Q: What is a fun fact about you?
A: I am a San Diego Chargers fan! Go Bolts!

Dorothina Shields, Youth Education Program Assistant
Q: What did you do before coming to SFBFS?
A: Before I attained my position as Youth Education Coordinator for SFBFS, I was unemployed for nearly two years. I was laid off from my position as a Program Assistant and Childcare Assistant with National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency Sacramento in February 2010. At NCADD Sacramento I had the opportunity to provide administrative support and child care assistance to women and their families as they participated in counseling and alcohol and drug recovery programs. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the families and staff at NCADD and I look forward to serving individuals and families as a part of the SFBFS team as well.

Q: How did you hear about your current position at SFBFS? What made you want to work at SFBFS?
A: I've been a Sacramentan for nearly twenty years and I've been
aware of SFBFS since I was in middle school, but like many members of the general public I assumed that SFBFS only provided food and clothing to low-income individuals and families in Sacramento. I heard about the Youth Education Coordinator position from Sacramento Craigslist and I was attracted to my current position because it gave me the opportunity to be a part of an organization that is committed to not only meeting the immediate needs of individuals and families but providing them with services that give them the opportunity to become more self-sufficient.

Q: What are you looking forward to in your first year?
A: I look forward to discovering what it means to be food bank-y which Mr. Young explained is an essential quality of staff members at SFBFS and I look forward to being a part of a team of
professionals committed to improving the lives of low-income individuals and families in the community .

Q: How has your first few days at
SFBFS been? What are you liking so far?
A: My first few days have been overwhelming and busy, but very exciting. I believe that I've come to SFBFS at an exciting time when the transition to the new facility
offers me an opportunity to discover how my skills and abilities can be utilized to better serve the needs of individuals and families in the community. I've enjoyed having the opportunity to get to know all my co-workers and what roles they play at SFBFS. I believe that each member of SFBFS’ team plays an integral part in allowing SFBFS to provide low-income individuals and families in Sacramento with quality services that support their progress towards self-sufficiency.

Q: What is a fun fact about you?

A: I love chocolate.

Brenda Wherry, Receptionist

Q: What did you do before coming to SFBFS?
A: My most recent position was with Best Buy in Woodland, where I worked in Product Process, which included Inventory Control, Merchandising and Asset Protection. My complete work history spans the gamut, though, including dog training, kennel management, retail management, 12 years of childcare, student recruitment at CSU Stanislaus and 2 years as a Teaching Assistant/Associate Instructor in the Spanish Department at UC Davis. I also scored standardized testing for grades 3 through 12 for CTB/McGraw-Hill.

Q: How did you hear about your current position at SFBFS? What made you want to work at SFBFS?

A: Since graduation from UC Davis in 2008 I have kept a constant eye on the nonprofit sector jobs on Craigslist. I never gave up my search and was pleased when I came upon the ad for this position. I checked out the (SFBFS) Web site and I was quite impressed! My own volunteer history includes numerous walk-a-thons, canned food drives, work in a food closet, support work for an anti-drug outreach program for high school students and a series of ten short-term mission trips to Baja California to build homes for indigenous families that had been moved from their home on the mainland to work the fields along the peninsula. I love the work SFBFS does and am overjoyed to now be a part of the team.
Q: What are you looking forward to in your first year?
A: In my first year, I hope to gain a solid knowledge of what each of our programs has to offer.
I look forward to getting to know the staff better and to getting to know our clients, volunteers
and donors as well. I am always impressed when I encounter a worker in any position who knows
their position thoroughly and who is confident in their daily tasks. My goal is to become that kind
of competent, confident worker who is an asset to the SFBFS team.
Q: How have your first few days at SFBFS been? What are you liking so far about? 
A: My first few days have been amazing! The staff, board members, clients and volunteers
are warm and welcoming. What I like best about SFBFS is the fact that the entire team is
clearly united toward the common goal of producing lasting results for the clients.
Q: What is a fun fact about you? 
A: I am the proud owner of a Spectacled Amazon Parrot that I rescued from an unfortunate
situation 22 years ago. Over the past 22 years I have tried to teach her to say “I love you”
with absolutely no success. However, after installing Avast virus protection on my laptop a
mere two months ago, she is now well on her way to saying “Avast virus database” because
of the programs’ daily automatic up-date announcements. Nevertheless, this little bird is a ton
of fun and I love her dearly. So, I’m happy to teach human beings, but just don’t ask me for
help training pets!

February 3, 2012

Food program

After participating in the Run to Feed the Hungry from 2008-2010, to make myself feel better about stuffing my face with Thanksgiving dinner, I looked into to volunteering with Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS). I found I was in good company as I had to wait 6 weeks for an opening to attend a volunteer orientation. I’ve had wonderful experiences volunteering in the past with children at United Way and building a home for a deserving family with Habitat for Humanity. After looking into other organizations in Sacramento and attending their volunteer orientations, I found SFBFS’ mission to be something I wanted to be a part of.

I attended the orientation and was able to pick the areas that I was interested in volunteering with. Learning that I could volunteer the next week with the Food program at an offsite distribution, I signed up. I was so impressed with the concept of bringing food out to the community with a farmers ‘market style setup. Seeing how the staff setup, organized the volunteers and served many households, I was completely awestruck. They had it down to a science.

Within in a week I was invited in to meet with the administrative office to see if I would be a good fit. Everyone who I met with was genuinely nice and friendly, in addition to all the services that are offered here, I knew this was the place for me to volunteer. By the following week, I was answering phone calls and assisting the Receptionist with the many tasks she does to keep the front office running smoothly. In addition, I was able to learn the database system that is used to track client, donor and volunteer information.

Being able to use the database, I was able to expand my volunteering capabilities and assist with registering clients with the Food program. As Marshall, who was in charge of the Food Program at the time, was happy that I was able to learn this process, I was offered a job as Food Assistance Registration Coordinator. I gladly accepted the part-time position and within a couple of weeks I became a full time employee at SFBFS. I was never expecting such an opportunity to come my way; I was just interested in giving back and assisting others. I am so lucky that my job incorporates those aspects, as well as so much more. I’m so grateful that I made the decision to volunteer and the doors it has opened up to me. I couldn’t work with a better group of people.

Submitted by Erika Ledbetter, Food Program Assistant

A New Outlook on Volunteering

Last Thanksgiving my sister Pat, who lives in Walla Walla Washington, called to ask me what I was doing for Thanksgiving this year. Whenever possible, we try to get together with our brother who lives in Portland, Oregon.

I told her that I would be working the Run to Feed the Hungry this year and explained what it was all about. Pat, who has never volunteered for anything in her life, thought that sounded like fun and asked if she could come and work with me that day. Naturally, I was very excited to have her visit, and the idea of her volunteering for something, was also very exciting.

Well, as everyone knows, that day it rained, but it didn’t diminish any of the fun and excitement we had working together in the rain. She was thrilled with all the runners, the people she met and amazed at the people that gave so much of their time and effort to help those in need.

I can honestly say, she is a changed person because of her experience here with the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, and I love her all the more for it.

Submitted by Dana Shokes, Database Manager