Village Presbyterian Church, based out of Prairie Village, Kansas, reached out to our Volunteer Services during the spring. They were planning a summer trip for 60 middle and high school students in their youth programs. Could we use the help? Of course, we said, “Yes!”
Traveling over 1,800 miles to Concord, California, students and chaperones from Village Presbyterian Church visited us last month. Divided into groups of fifteen, volunteers helped to sort fresh produce and goods at the Food Bank. We also talked about hunger in the Bay Area and throughout the country.
When we asked them about their plans for the week, we were surprised to learn we were not the only stop on their schedule.
While they are here, the group is volunteering at several nonprofits throughout the Bay Area including Project Open Hand, St. Anthony Foundation, GLIDE Memorial Church, St. Vincent de Paul, CityTeam Oakland, and Farm2Market: Alameda Point Collaborative.
During their busy schedule, we had a chance to speak with Jenna Soltys, Associate Director of Youth Ministries. With so many nonprofits in our area, Jenna shared with us that this was a great place to learn about serving others.
Tell us about your group. What brings you to the San Francisco Bay Area?
We are a mission-focused youth group. Throughout the year we go on trips to serve communities at local, domestic, and international locations. We don’t want our kids to grow up in a bubble. A trip like this teaches them about teamwork, being flexible, and what is happening in other parts of the world.
You’re in California on a fun trip, why did you decide to come volunteer at the Food Bank?
The goals of our Youth Department and Church are service-centered, inclusive, and about serving people and getting out into the world.
Jenna explained how volunteering impacted her early in life. As a youth, she went on community-based service-learning trips to volunteer her time. She said that volunteering changed her perspective on the world and created a commitment to serve others. It is also the reason why she is now the Associate Director of Youth Ministries leading trips for youth. She hoped that volunteering in places like the Bay Area would have a similar impact on her students.
What would you like to tell other youth group leaders about volunteering?
You can have a group bonding experience on a trip like this. If you aren’t a big organization, you can work with a third-party provider such as City Service Mission to help coordinate booking, housing, and volunteer opportunities for an entire trip.
The Food Bank wishes to thank Jenna and the youth from Village Presbyterian Church for volunteering at the Food Bank and learning about hunger in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Do you have a group that would like to volunteer? At the time of writing this, we need groups of up to 20 volunteers to help us sort food at our Fairfield Warehouse. Contact us at [email protected] to learn more.