Six Bank of America employees took a few hours off work on 2/18 to come and volunteer at our Concord warehouse. I needed some flyers attached to paper bags for upcoming food drives and the group of six had a great time chatting and stapling flyers on almost 2,000 bags in a record 90 minutes. The wonderful part is that the bags will come back filled with food to help feed those in need in our community. Thank you Bank of America volunteers!
Guest post by Pamela Adelman Ball: We were the apples group. There were also grapes, broccoli, and carrots. This wasn’t Fruit of the Loom, but a recent Family Volunteer Day at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. The fruits were a fun touch though, and certainly set the tone for the day.
Family Volunteer Days are designed for families with young children to visit the Food Bank and learn more about hunger in our country, and what the Food Bank is doing to help those in need. I was impressed at the turnout — both sessions were filled to capacity, with dozens of families coming out on a St. Patrick’s Day Sunday, interested in introducing their kids to these important issues.
I brought my five-year-old daughter, Peyton. While we are looking to instill in her compassion for others and the importance of being an active participant in her community, we’ve been uncertain how to talk to her about potentially frightening topics such as hunger or the disadvantaged. Luckily the staff and volunteers at the Food Bank had a way to introduce this in a manner kids could understand. The 90-minute event included coloring, counting, stickering, tying knots, and checking out some cool sci-fi-ish technology — what could be more fun for a child?
The counting and stickers were labeling and packing fruit cans; coloring was a paper lunch bag campaign to convince elected officials not to cut funding for food stamps; tying knots was sorting apples into bags. The sci-fi was touring the massive warehouse and cold storage area. Throughout the event, Food Bank representatives spoke about hunger, ways the organization was helping, and ways we as a community could contribute.
Some of the take-home points were shocking: 1 in 6 Americans struggle with hunger, and 1 in 4 people receiving emergency food from the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano are children. The Food Bank feeds approximately 149,000 people each month, and not just homeless; some of them are just like you and me. Kids are going hungry at school, so in partnership with after school programs in low-income areas the Food Bank provides fresh fruits and vegetables to 9,000 kids in 80 schools. As a result each child receives a 3-5 pound bag of produce to take home every week during the school year.
While it was sad to be reminded of how much need exists right her in our community, it was also heartwarming to hear how much is being done to help. As for my daughter? I was happy to hear her take-home point was right on target: “Mommy, that was really fun.”
If you are interested in the next Family Volunteer Day, please let us know.
Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter: Because of support from a generous community, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano has been able to increase the amount of food we distribute to people at risk of hunger.
We receive financial support from individuals and corporations, which helps us fuel our trucks and keep the lights on. We also have an outpouring of support with community food drives that add variety to the bulk items we purchase.
One of the most essential pieces of the support puzzle is the volunteer force that has answered the call to serve.
More than 50,000 volunteer hours are given to us each year — the equivalent of 25 additional staff members. Volunteers serve on our Board of Directors, help with office and fund development tasks, and help sort food. They help with food distributions and touch every program we run.
We have volunteers who hold doctoral degrees and volunteers who are developmentally disabled. Volunteers come with their Scout groups, their faith communities, their service clubs and their fellow workers. Some volunteers come once a year, some are here every week (or more).
Volunteers are important to us because they become our best advocates in the community. Volunteers have hands-on experience with our work, so they can speak with authority about what we do. They see us gather food, they see how effectively the Food Bank operates, and they see the people we serve.
Volunteers do hands-on work and know the commitment we have, as an organization, to our mission.
The Food Bank could not survive without the time and energy volunteers give.
Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter: One of the wonderful things about working at a nonprofit organization is that an essential part of the staff are volunteer workers.
The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano has more than 50,000 hours of volunteer time given to us each year. People serve on our board of directors, answer our phones, bag vegetables, help with food distributions and serve as ambassadors to spread the word about the Food Bank’s work.
It can’t be said enough that there is no way the Food Bank could do its work without the volunteers who dedicate their time to helping us feed people in need.
We know that the least we can do as a thank-you is to host a volunteer recognition event each year, to express our gratitude to the people who help us. One of the major positives about the volunteer recognition event, held last Sunday, was that we were able to share a fun day with those who mean so much to our work.
We pull out all the stops so we can serve people lunch, have some entertainment (provided by volunteers) and give people a goody bag of donated items. Many of our volunteers seldom attend events like this, so it is important to us that they feel like the special guests they are.
This year was difficult for us because we were honoring the memory of Charlene Burns. Char was the coordinator who oversaw our Senior Food Program, until she passed away suddenly in September.
The volunteers who make the Senior Food Program work and Char were family. So, for both volunteers and staff members, losing Char turned us upside down. This year’s volunteer recognition was a bittersweet experience, but it gave us an opportunity to come together to celebrate what we do at the same time we shared our loss.
We thank all of our volunteers for their continued support throughout the year.
If you would like to learn about the many ways to volunteer at the Food Bank, please contact email@example.com or call 855.309.FOOD.
Kiewit is one of the largest and most respected construction and mining organizations in North America. At Kiewit, their motto is “We build quality projects safely, on time and on budget; no matter how large or small”. Kiewit brings their motto to the Food Bank, supporting us in many ways – no matter how large or small!
With the Kiewit Infrastructure West office located in Fairfield and the Marsh Landing Generation Station Power Plant in Antioch we receive support not only through holiday and summer food drives, a virtual food drive and a sponsorship for our Admiral’s Garden fundraising event, but we also host a group of strong and dedicated Kiewit volunteers on the second Tuesday evening of every month in our Concord warehouse. At the end of the two hour shift, the Kiewit employees are happily exhausted and we have hundreds of boxes of food or produce ready to go out to people in our community! Kiewit employees believe in giving locally and supporting their community. Thanks Kiewit and Kiewit employees for all you do for our Solano County and Contra Costa County communities!
It is said that the strength of a nonprofit lies in the hearts and minds of its volunteers. Working on the planning of our annual An Afternoon in the Admiral’s Garden fundraiser certainly substantiates that claim in so many ways. While volunteers make a difference every day at the Food Bank, during June and particularly on the day of this special event, they are an indispensable extension of our staff. Whether it was setting up the event itself, warmly welcoming our guests as they arrived, quickly and efficiently getting people registered, serving at the lunch, assisting with the auctions and games, and then of course the clean up afterwards, our dedicated volunteers were a vital part of making an exceptional Afternoon in the Admiral’s Garden on Sunday, June 24th.
NCL Rolling Hills and NCL Vista Oak mothers and daughters, the Contra Costa County Employees Team, the AT&T Pioneers, the Food Bank Ambassadors and numerous other individual volunteers helped throughout the day from early until late. They wholeheartedly support our cause and really work to help us make a difference to all of those we serve. They are the “volunteer faces of the Food Bank” and we are so grateful for all that they do!
If you would like to volunteer at the Food Bank, please contact Sharon Zeppegno at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 925.6767543, ext. 209.
Guest post by Ambassador Laura Collins: “How was your day?” Do you ever get asked that question? Typically we answer with a simple “fine” or “great”, believing that it is just a courtesy question anyway.
Well on June 5 when asked that question, I did say “great”, but I also felt it was important to follow up with why it was great. I spent my lunch time at the Concord warehouse of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano with a roomful of dedicated hunger fighters! As part of the Food Bank’s ambassador program, each of the people there have represented the Food Bank at community events, helped coordinate food drives, volunteered at distribution sites, done outreach to the community for Calfresh (SNAP, formerly Food Stamp Program), helped with fundraisers, and networked at Chamber of Commerce events. Our goal is to educate our community on hunger issues, promote awareness and to also dispel myths concerning those receiving food assistance. By the way, did you know that 1 in 4 emergency food recipients are children? And over 35% of our clients had to choose between paying for food and paying their rent or mortgage? (Once an ambassador you can’t pass up any opportunity to slip in a few quick facts!)
Along with the ambassadors, Food Bank staff was on hand also, to cheer us on and inspire us to continue our outreach. As we introduced ourselves many ambassadors, like myself, credited outreach coordinator Patty McDowell with spearheading our efforts to get us out there in the public eye. Coordinating with the community and other staff members Patty leads the ambassador program and is always on the lookout for more recruits! (Hint, Hint)
Executive Director Larry Sly was there to speak about the future of the Food Bank, and I have to say, he was on fire! After 36 years with the Food Bank he is still passionate about the mission, if not more. His goal is to make nutritious food more accessible to the people who need it. He was very excited to tell us about the new Community Produce Program. Thanks to generous support from donors in our community, the Food Bank is able to purchase a beverage-style truck complete with canopies and side doors that open up, for the purpose of delivering fresh produce to communities in need. It’s simple and effective and families go home with fresh produce such as pears, oranges, apples, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage and carrots. Fresh, nutritious food that they may not have been able to put on their family’s table otherwise. Larry wants the Food Bank to work as smart and as efficient as possible, and he thanked us for getting our communities involved through volunteering, donating and advocating.
As I looked around the room, I saw vital, busy people, several working full time, that still find time to care about their community and try to make a difference. Just like them, I came to the Food Bank hoping to lend my skills to help in a meaningful way, and along the way I found that our community is clearly excited and eager to see us succeed.
So, how was your day?
Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church (also known to the community as LOPC) has been a long time supporter of the Food Bank. They have collected food donations for many years and are one of our longest running food drives. LOPC is a huge presence in the community always working with local, national and international partners to help those in need. On Sunday February 27th hundreds of volunteers helped organizations with projects throughout our community.
A very ambitious group of volunteers led by “Team Leader” Kerry Kinrade were organized and ready to work. They were able to sort and box a considerable amount of donated food enabling us to serve those in need in our community.
For more about the LOPC visit them on the web. http://www.lopc.org/
The Fairfield office would like to welcome two new office volunteers: Galila Kitzes from Vacaville, and Leslie Williams of Fairfield. Galila, a busy mom, began volunteering in the warehouse last fall, and is now helping with office projects on Fridays. Leslie started volunteering in early February on Tuesdays and Thursdays when she is not in school.
They assist our Lead Volunteer, Julie Ruttenberg, with CalFresh projects. Until recently, Julie was able to meet the demands of the CalFresh team by herself, but the program has been expanding so it became necessary to recruit additional help. The women assemble CalFresh applications, put stickers on materials, and bundle brochures. These materials are then used by the Food Bank staff members who conduct CalFresh outreach. We are very happy Galila and Leslie have joined the growing team of regular volunteers at the Food Bank’s Solano location.
Guest post by Trevor’s mommy, Cindy: As a child, my family was very active volunteering in our local community. We visited with convalescent patients, joined clean-up events, participated in walk-a-thons, assisted with weekly bingo games at the VA hospital, and much more. But my favorite of all was sorting food donations and filling baskets to give to those in need. Now that I am a mother, it is important to me that my son Trevor learn the value of volunteering in our community. I want him to know the joy that comes from helping others and making a difference.
When Trevor was 2, I started researching volunteer opportunities with the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. I learned that they hold Family Volunteer Day events several times a year… but children must be 5 years old to participate. For three years, I have repeatedly checked the website to make sure the minimum age was still 5. The week my son turned 5, I contacted Lauren Strouse and asked to be notified when the next Family Volunteer Day was scheduled. Finally, after waiting for years, we attended our first Family Volunteer Day.
I was very impressed with how well the event was run. After a brief orientation, we were split into four groups and rotated through the different activities. We started with a tour of the warehouse, where we learned all about the Food Bank, who they serve, and how they have grown and changed over the years. We were amazed to hear how many millions of pounds of food the Food Bank distributes each year.
Trevor’s favorite part of the tour was looking in the giant refrigerator that holds the perishable food.
Our next station was art. We learned about the “Have a Heart” budget advocacy campaign. Then we each made valentines to send members of the Assembly and Senate. These will be hand-delivered to Sacramento.
Next, we donned gloves and approached giant container of pears. Our job was to count out 12 pears and bag them for easy distribution to the recipients. This was Trevor’s favorite part of the day. (Mine too!) It was very satisfying to watch our stack of bagged pears growing and growing as we worked. The pears looked delicious- I was very happy to know that they would be going to people who might otherwise not have access to the fresh produce that some people take for granted.
At our final station, the children worked together to create an imaginary family. (Ours had a mom, dad, son, daughter and cat.) The kids took turns spinning the “Wheel of Life” to see what would happen to our fictional family and what financial implications each event might have. The first spin landed on ”Refrigerator breaks.” This really hit home, as our refrigerator stopped working right after my husband was laid off and we found ourselves living on unemployment that covered our mortgage and nothing more. Fortunately for us, we had savings and were still able to afford food, but I could truly understand how devastating a broken appliance could be to a family that was barely surviving financially. The next spin was “Christmas.”
Our fictional family could not afford gifts or a nice meal. Thank goodness for the Food Bank and other organizations that help those in need.
Family Volunteer Day is an outstanding event. We all learned so much and had a great time. On the drive home, Trevor asked when we could return to bag more produce. Very soon, I hope!
If you are interested in the next Family Volunteer Day, please let us know.