Toby French knows how to mobilize volunteers, so the Food Bank of Delaware – and the neighbors we assist – are grateful for his time, expertise, and dedication. Officially, he chairs Delaware Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (DEVOAD), but he’s also a man that relishes the rewards of hands-on, face-to-face, boots-on-the-ground volunteerism – he’s an unsung hero in our eyes.
DEVOAD is the state counterpart to and a member of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. There are 18 member organizations in Delaware, and French would welcome others into the fold. “We focus on unmet needs,” he said.
As DEVOAD’s chair, French describes one of his duties as leading quarterly Zoom meeting for members, some of which are chapters of national organizations while others he describes as small local groups.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Food Bank has distributed emergency food each month at drive-through mobile pantries in all three counties. These distribution sites each serve over 1,000 families. To get the job done efficiently requires hundreds of volunteers – many of whom come via DEVOAD connections – to register, load food, and assist with logistical details.
In addition to relying on support from state agencies, the Food Bank needs the contributions of these volunteers to conduct safe, efficient, and successful distributions.
While French is modest about the impact of his dedicated service, the Food Bank’s Community Relations Director Chad Robinson praises his commitment and expertise. “Toby French embodies the quality of commitment, in addition to his active involvement with Team Rubicon, Toby has stepped up to lead Delaware Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster as chairperson. In the early days of the pandemic, not too long into his chairmanship of DEVOAD, Toby was thrust into coordinating various volunteer organizations into a coordinated response. Toby marshalled his resources and quickly brought everyone to work. His assistance at the mass distributions, both personally, and on behalf of DEVOAD, has been invaluable. He has consistently been a part and stepped up when needed,” Robinson said.
“On a more personal level, Toby has looked out for the Food Bank of Delaware over the past year, always sharing any resources or opportunities he has come his way. We appreciate Toby and are proud to have him in our corner,” he added.
In addition to leading the organization, French volunteered at Food Bank distributions in Georgetown, assisting as needed with registrations and loading food.
“It’s a real blessing what the Food Bank does for the people of Delaware,” French said. “I’m thrilled to help out.”
Visit Delaware VOAD’s Facebook page to learn more about the organization and to connect with other non-profit agencies. To learn more about available volunteer opportunities at the Food Bank of Delaware, click here.