April is Volunteer Appreciation Month! Throughout the month we will highlight the stories of volunteers who are committed to creating a community free of hunger!
Caption: From left are Robin Mills, Yvonne Morrissiey, Reginald Seth, Brenda Boutin, Christine Shalk, Jennifer Mancuso, Sandy Shalk, Warren Boutin, and Phil Williamson.
At the Food Bank of Delaware, we always say “Volunteers are the heart and soul of our organization.” And there’s a reason: It’s true!
Last year, volunteers donated more than 50,000 hours to help sort and pack food donations, to help prepare and pack meals for children, and to create meal boxes. Sometimes these volunteers sign up as a group, such as a scout troop or class, and sometimes volunteers register to help, then grow into a cohesive group.
That’s what has happened at the Milford branch. Each Tuesday and Thursday morning, nearly a dozen – more or less, depending on the season – volunteers lend a hand. Sometimes they pack backpacks, or weekend meals, for children. Some days they sort, but while lending a hand this group has also cemented as a team.
Reggie Seth has been volunteering here for more than three years. He became disabled, and realized that “sitting at home, doing nothing” wasn’t for him.
“I always like to help people,” he said, noting that his favorite task is pitching in when it’s a distribution day for seniors.
Phil Williamson retired and started volunteering two years ago,
“It’s a good cause, and I believe in the cause, but I came back because it’s a good experience,” he said.
Sandy Shalk, a retired school administrator, started volunteering with his wife, Christine. The couple found they enjoyed their time here, particularly working with others in the group.
As she worked on the assembly line, Christine said she’s seen how children benefit from the backpacks.
“I used to pass them out, and I could see how appreciative the parents and grandparents were,” said the former first grade teacher
Brenda and Warren Boutin, also retired but seeking something “to fill our time and do something for other people,” found a rewarding opportunity at the Food Bank.
“What’s nice about this,” said Warren, “is that it’s tangible. We are trying to meet specific needs.”
Three of the team members are nurses with a special interest in hunger and food insecurity. Jennifer Manusco, a nurse supervisor at Beebe Medical Center, is working on a project about hunger for her masters’ degree from Wilmington University, and Yvonne Morrissiey, a nurse at Bayhealth Kent General, is developing a Wilmington University project about food insecurity. Robin Mills works in home health care for Beebe, and recognizes the importance of the Food Bank’s mission to eradicate hunger in Delaware.
“It gives meaning, and it puts everything into perspective. We are providing nutrition, not just filling bellies, and everybody is nice here,” said Yvonne. “It makes sense to volunteer,” she said, noting that she enjoyed the assembly line process of the task.
Anyone who would like to get involved in helping the Food Bank of Delaware feed hungry Delawareans can sign up at www.fbd.volunteerhub.com.