Real Stories: Why I’m a Volunteer

December 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

By Suzanne Erickson

I am new to Austin with no income or friends (here).  I have volunteered in other states with the sick, the dying and feeding the poor.  I feel I am in Austin to be of service to humanity.

Now, all over the country ways are being found to feed those in need (it is not just the poor).  These numbers will increase as more people lose their homes and jobs.

I have been privileged to help in other states where much more is done and given to those in need.  While Austin is striving to feed as many as possible there is much more that can and could be done to see that fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy products are given instead of being discarded by the food outlets.  Hopefully that will come to pass.

At the St. John Community Food Center I have used my varied talents as an organizer, a problem solver, data input, a communicator, and I am a multi-tasker.   I like the activity and the challenge of keeping the flow, looking for improvements and trying to keep a calmness when these people have to wait so long to be processed.

I help sign up people in line, call them in as seats are available, get them to the computer input tables as efficiently as possible, answer questions, help them out the door, help restock shelves, and give directions to new volunteers when asked by the staff.

Each week there is at least one person who tells me they are embarrassed to be there.  I get chills as I tell them we are not feeding the poor, we are here to help those who are in need for as long as there is a need.  That is our purpose.  Shame, embarrassment and guilt are not a part of the process for any of us.  Many times these are the people who say they would like to volunteer when they are able.

My Spanish if very limited (which has created laughter from my attempts to pronounce correctly).  This week one person in line offered to help me translate.  This person was very helpful to me and we bonded for the hours she waited her turn. On several occasions she helped explain and ease tension for those who didn’t speak English.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities on our website.

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