After working as a Weekend Volunteer Leader for the past seven months, Volunteer Programs invited me to share my experience on the CAFB Blog. Ironically, working in the warehouse never occurred to me when I initially contacted the CAFB last summer in response to a posting for someone to train others in using spreadsheets. At the time, I simply wanted to contribute a few hours on a regular basis in a fairly subdued and orderly setting. That is, something well within my comfort zone.
As it turned out, the position I initially sought was no longer available. Instead, the CAFB intern encouraged me to consider the Weekend Volunteer Leader position. After initially declining, it occurred to me that contributing my time to such a worthy cause as helping to feed those in our communities who suffer from hunger should not be about what is convenient and comfortable for me. So, I sheepishly called the intern back and asked if the WVL position would still be available to me. Within a couple of days, I reported for my first shift in the warehouse where I met Mary Knighton-Brenner. She provided a quick orientation and sent me on my way to work with a large group of volunteers. Somewhat to my surprise, we all survived my first shift as a leader as we packed somewhere around a thousand Weekend Bags.
As I quickly became more comfortable and confident as a WVL, I began enjoying working in the warehouse more than I expected. I soon began working nearly every Saturday and then, both the morning and afternoon shifts. So, after seven months it has become a regular part of my weekly routine, something to which I really look forward. In particular, I enjoy the physical nature of the work, working with the CAFB staff – Mary, Nicole, Oye, David, June, and Courtney as well as all the others – and working alongside the many volunteers whose motives for contributing their time are as diverse as their backgrounds and stories. And, I never complete a shift without learning something from the staff and other volunteers.
Needless to say, my experience over the past seven months was certainly not what I expected or sought when initially contacting the CAFB. Instead, it has been serendipitous and enriching as I have worked along side the dedicated staff plus thousands of other enthusiastic volunteers. Together we have prepared thousands of Weekend Bags for local children, thousands of Brown Bags for local senior citizens, as well as sorted and packed thousands of pounds of donated items for future distribution to help feed those in our communities who suffer from hunger.
Written by: Grey Jones- Volunteer Weekend Leader