Category Archives: Volunteer

Volunteer Spotlight: Pam Fletcher

DSC_0089By Lynda Pusey, Fund Development Specialist

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month! Volunteers are the heart and soul of our organization. We can’t do what we do without their support! While each and every volunteer is important to us, some have gone above and beyond! Pam Fletcher is one of those volunteers.

Pam is a retired school psychologist who has been volunteering at the Food Bank of Delaware since August 2014. She volunteers in the kitchen and in the volunteer room approximately six hours each week and says she loves the variety of work and meeting so many new people.

As a kitchen volunteer, Pam works alongside a small team of volunteers preparing and packing meals for our After-School Nutrition Program. Having worked in a school environment she understands the importance of getting food to those who are food insecure. Thanks to dedicated volunteers like Pam we have been able to distribute 138,812 meals and 51,282 snacks through the After-School Nutrition Program to children who may not have access to nutritious foods after school.

She said she has learned patience and how to “roll with the flow” every day while volunteering. Her advice for people who are considering volunteering is to come and give it a try. “It is so fulfilling. It’s such a gift to be able to give back, and that’s why I volunteer,” she says.

To learn more about how you can volunteer your time at the Food Bank of Delaware, please visit http://www.fbd.volunteerhub.com.

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Annual dinner showcases culinary students, thanks top supporters and friends

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

It goes without saying that the Food Bank of Delaware’s Annual Dinner is regarded as a special evening. The event is our opportunity to honor and thank those who support our mission.

Thursday evening’s banquet at our Milford site exceeded any expectations. Tim Hunter, chef instructor, and his nine Culinary School students prepared and served a gourmet meal for our staff and guests. They who also had an opportunity to savor craft beers donated and served by our neighbors, Mispillion River Brewing. The menu, served at buffet stations, was paired with local beers.

Patricia Beebe, our President and CEO, lauded our top honorees of the year. They are: James Buford and Rich Simpson, Volunteers of the Year; The Harry K Foundation, Donor of the Year; Michael Haritos, Supporter of the Year; State Sen. Bryan Townsend, Legislator of the Year, Sussex Community Corrections Center, Partner of the Year.

We are extremely grateful for the time and talent they contribute to the Food Bank of Delaware, and over the next week, we will feature each honoree in a separate blog. Stay tuned!

During the week prior to the dinner, staff members received an email from Pat: tie dye shirts were mandatory for the occasion. Those of us who’ve been here for awhile know that’s code for “auspicious occasion.”

To set the tone for the evening, Pat took an opportunity before dinner to recognize all 60 members of the Food Bank’s staff, calling them by department up to the podium, to thank us for the hard work we’re doing and for our dedication to the people we serve.

After dinner, the evening got a bit emotional as Pat put aside her notes to praise the partnership between the Sussex Community Corrections’ Sussex Work Release Center, noting that the nine Culinary School students who prepared our dinner were associated with the center in Georgetown.

Guests could see that the students were proud of their accomplishments, that they respected Chef Hunter and “Miss Pat,” that the Culinary School made a big difference in their lives, that they were looking forward to internships, to the May 8 graduation ceremonies, and to meaningful employment opportunities.

The details of that story, and more, are left for another day.

For more information on how to volunteer and support the Food Bank of Delaware, visit www.fbd.org.

Check out photos from last night’s dinner!

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Filed under Events, FBD Staff, Programs, Supporters, The Culinary School, Volunteer, Workforce Development

Volunteers find rewards in lending a hand to the Food Bank of Delaware

0408_Violet02By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Here at the Food Bank of Delaware we have a special place in our heart for volunteers. After all, they help us fight hunger in Delaware every single day.

Violet Sorden of Milford signed up to volunteer at our Milford site in February. She retired from the state Division of Social Services after 28 years and had become caregiver for her father, but she decided to volunteer in order ”to do something to get out of the house.”

So she comes in each week to help Missy Holochwost, our Senior Nutrition and Mobile Pantry Coordinator, with clerical tasks.

What a perfect match!

“I was a little nervous at first, but everybody here is really friendly. I definitely enjoy it,” Violet said.

As a social service professional, Violet is familiar with the paperwork tied to programs that assist people in need.

So Missy set up a mini-desk/workstation next to the window where Violet makes phone calls or sends out letters during the 6-8 hours a week she volunteers.

“I really missed all of this,” she said. “I enjoyed talking to people on the phone.”

Her time benefits everyone, including our clients.

“This really hit the bell for both of us. I do multiple programs, and I wouldn’t be able to do it without physical help with all the paperwork,” said Missy.

The Food Bank of Delaware offers many volunteer opportunities, including stacking, sorting and packing food donations, preparing and packing meals for children and creating meal boxes that go to seniors and families.

Last year, there were 15,691 volunteer visits to the Food Bank, totaling 41,455 hours or the equivalent of 19 full-time staff members.

Volunteers are always welcome and opportunities can be found at http://www.fbd.volunteerhub.com!

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Partner Spotlight: After-School Nutrition Program at Gauger Middle School’s 4-H Program

Gauger 4H mentorsBy Kim Turner, Communications Director

Every weekday morning, a group of dedicated volunteers work alongside Food Bank of Delaware staff in both Newark and Milford to prepare healthy after-school meals. Volunteers spend each morning bagging sandwiches and other items and loading individual-sized milk cartons and fruit into coolers. A fleet of drivers deliver the meals and snacks to after-school programs up and down the state. For many children, the meal received after school is the last healthy meal of the day until going back to school the next morning.

On average we deliver 6,500 meals each week. So far this school year, we have distributed 97,378 meals.

Sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), our after-school nutrition program fills a meal void for many Delaware families. We partner with after-school programs such as the University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension’s 4-H after-school program. Targeting at-risk youth, the program is housed at 13 statewide locations, including Gauger Middle School in Newark.

Last month I had the opportunity to visit the group of 4-H mentors housed at Gauger Middle School. Mentor Sherice Brown and eight others (pictured above) work with a group of more than 40 students, providing after-school enrichment programs to students. The program lasts for two hours every schoolday afternoon. In addition to homework help and recreational activities, the students also enjoy an after-school meal prepared by our team of volunteers. When I visited, students had tuna fish with crackers, celery, oranges and milk. Some recent and future programming includes construction of wooden bird houses, a culture project, microwave magic healthy cooking demonstrations and a career day.

The mentors, employed by the University of Delaware, are thankful for an opportunity to provide students with a meal.

Volunteers are currently needed to help prepare meals in both Newark and Milford. Click here to sign up to help in the Milford kitchen and here to help in Newark.

Does your after-school program want to serve free meals? To qualify for the program, sites must operate in areas where at least 50 percent of the children attending the nearest school qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. To learn more, please contact Kirsten Gooden, Children’s Nutrition Coordinator, at (302) 444-8128 or kgooden@fbd.org.

 

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Filed under Children's Nutrition, Hunger-Relief Partners, Programs, Volunteer

Resolve to volunteer in 2015

New Year 2015 formed from sparking digits over black backgroundBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

It’s that time of year when most of us start to think about what worked for us in the past year and what we can do better next year. Call the process making New Year’s resolutions, if you want, but even people who don’t make formal resolutions usually take time to pause and perhaps regroup.

Traditional resolutions often include plans to lose weight, save money or exercise more frequently. Those are all worthwhile intentions, but they often fall by the wayside before Feb. 1 rolls around. Not being successful in meeting new goals becomes a source of personal frustration, even a sense of failure.

While being introspective and writing out goals for 2015, and perhaps beyond, think about making time and a commitment to volunteer. Dedicated volunteers, those who make giving back a part of their lives, swear that by helping others they receive far more than they give. Volunteers will say that lending a hand is so rewarding in ways they never could have imagined.

The Food Bank of Delaware offers volunteer opportunities year ‘round in Newark and in Milford, and signing up is easy. Just visit http://www.fbd.volunteerhub.com and using the pull-down menu, pick time, date and shift you’d like to work.

Volunteers can be flexible and need not commit to a regular weekly or monthly spot; you can sign up for shifts that suit your schedule.

What do volunteers help us do? There are many tasks required to help feed hungry Delawareans. Many.

Most people are unaware of what the Food Bank does. Our mission is to eradicate hunger in Delaware, but right now our network of more than 550 hunger-relief program partners serve more than 916,000 visitors each year statewide.

The Food Bank provides food to food closets in schools, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, day care centers, children’s nutrition sites and other non-profits.

So those food products have to be sorted, packed, boxed and even placed in backpacks for direct distribution. For example, if a business conducts a holiday food drive and brings the collection to one of our warehouses, that food must be weighed, sorted and shelved before it goes out to a food pantry.

That’s just one example of an opportunity because the food bank has donations coming from many sources, including stores, each day. Many hands lighten the task, as the saying goes.

Last year, volunteers donated 41,455 hours, or the equivalent of 19 full-time staff members. Volunteers come from all walks of life, and they represent all ages, races, professions. Some people sign up on their own, while others come as a member of work-place based team, youth group or scout troops, faith-based organizations and others.

Learn more about other volunteer opportunities at www.fbd.volunteerhub.com.

 

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Volunteers needed at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford Branch

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A volunteer helps out in the Milford kitchen with the After-School Nutrition Program for children

We are in need of volunteers at our Milford Branch to help pack and sort food, prepare meals and assist with administrative duties.

Volunteers are needed on most weekdays from Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Occasional weekend and weeknight hours are also available.

“Since one in five children in Delaware live in poverty, when you volunteer at the Food Bank of Delaware you are truly making a local impact,” said Milford Branch Director Chad Robinson. “Volunteers help make bags for our Backpack Program knowing that a child will be able to eat over the weekend. Making a senior meal box means that local senior citizens can breathe a little easier because they have food to eat. It is quite eye opening to realize the prevalence of people in need in our own community.”

Volunteers can sign up as individuals or groups. Volunteering is a great team-building activity for local businesses, nonprofits, school groups, faith-based organizations and others. Helping at the Food Bank is also a perfect opportunity for youngsters to experience the benefits of community service. Children as young as seven years old can help; those ages seven-15 will need an adult chaperone.

Volunteers must wear sneakers or closed-toe, sturdy shoes. Some volunteer jobs require the ability to lift 50-pound boxes, though not all jobs require lifting. A minimum or regular commitment is not required, and volunteers can help according to their own time schedule.

Volunteers may view available opportunities and sign up online by visiting www.fbd.volunteerhub.com. Groups of five or more should call or e-mail Lyndsay Humphreys, Volunteer Coordinator, at (302) 393-2011 or lhumphreys@fbd.org to arrange a volunteer time.

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Volunteering at the Milford Branch

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Lyndsay Humphreys, volunteer coordinator at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford branch, had to hit the ground running when she started her new job here Memorial Day weekend.

Summer is the busiest time of year for the Food Bank because that’s when summer meal programs start up. Volunteers are needed to prepare and pack meals in four-hour shifts each and every weekday. Meals are distributed throughout the state to kids who may not have access to nutritious meals when school is not in session.

This is not only Lynday’s first summer of meal production and packing, but the Food Bank’s first time preparing and packing summer meals in our brand-new kitchen and volunteer room! Thanks to generous donors, we completed our $2.6 million capital campaign last summer and cut the ribbon on our newly-expanded building in September 2013.

Lyndsay, a resident of Georgetown, is no stranger to working with the volunteers who keep the operation going effectively.

She came to the Food Bank of Delaware from another non-profit agency, Sussex County Habitat for Humanity, where she worked as volunteer coordinator.

An AmericCorps alumna, Lyndsay shares a great story about how she became involved in not-for-profit work.

“When I was 14, I took a mission trip with my church to Appalachia, and I fell in love with service. It was a major life-changing event,” Lyndsay said, describing her experience in Appalachia.

She continued to volunteer through high school, and then signed up with AmeriCorps, a national program that provides career paths through service positions. AmeriCorps members also earn money for their education.

Her church, Grace United Methodist Church in Millsboro, goes on a mission trip every other year, and this year, Lyndsay led the group of 30 volunteers.

Lyndsay’s job is active and very physical, but this mother of two young children likes that.

“I rarely sit down, and I like being all over the place, doing three things at once. I like talking to people. Every four hours, new people walk through the door. It’s nice meeting new people,” she said.

Because of her own personal experience, Lyndsay is well aware that for many young volunteers their time packing and sorting at the Food Bank might be their first foray into the world of serving others.

“With the kids, I am planting a seed, and I told them that this could have a big impact later on. I encourage youth to come in. This is the busiest time of year, and there is so much we could be capable of doing if we had the volunteers. It doesn’t matter if they are 7 or 107, they can come in,” she said.

“In a four-hour time slot, you feel like you’ve made a difference.”

Volunteers are needed all year-round at the Milford Branch. Volunteer activities range from preparing and packing meals for children, to sorting food donations and packing meal boxes. Want to join Lyndsay in the volunteer room at the Milford Branch?  View all of our available volunteer hours and sign up to help by visiting http://www.fbd.volunteerhub.com.

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Filed under Programs, Volunteer