VEAP’s 3,000 yearly volunteers are a critical component of our organization. We simply could not run without them! Our Volunteer Spotlight series highlights their work: from sorting through produce to driving people home from the pantry, VEAP’s volunteers make it happen. Learn more about one of our superstar volunteer van drivers, Diane Shepperd!
When did you get involved with VEAP? I began volunteering just a few months ago. I volunteer in other areas and I wanted something a little different. I learned about VEAP through the postal food drive. I had a plastic bag in my mailbox for food donations to VEAP, and I thought “that’s perfect, I’ll jump right in and give them a call!”
Why do you volunteer? Being a volunteer van driver is really nice way to get to know VEAP and the community from the ground level. When you donate food you think, ‘Oh someone is going to use that.’ And when you are in the van with people after they picked up food from the VEAP pantry you really hear some stories. I really had no idea that people right in our community, our neighborhood, almost right next door need help. You really just never know, you think things are going well and see how the rug falls out from underneath you. It’s been really eye-opening.
What’s it like to be a volunteer with VEAP? The gratitude really stands out to me. People are really thankful to eat nutritious food and they have such positive things to say about their experience and the volunteers at VEAP.
Has anything surprised you about volunteering? I honestly didn’t know my neighborhood that well! Even though I live in Bloomington, I didn’t have a good grasp of the area where people live. But it’s been very easy to get around and drive people home. And I enjoy the people: I’ve learned that a smile from both sides helps get people home.
What’s been most impactful? One gentleman told me about the meat he got from the pantry and how much he was looking forward to barbecuing. Food and family are so important to him. He is a widower and his family means so much to him. He is just a sweetheart.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering as a van driver? If you’re looking for a start for volunteering, van driving its really nice and easy. There is actually a little variety with each shift that you wouldn’t expect with being a driver. And the commitment is really light; the shifts are short. Whatever your strengths are, they will be utilized at VEAP.
Make a difference like Diane! VEAP is actively searching for volunteer van drivers.
Van drivers do three main tasks:
- Bring people home after they shop in the VEAP food pantry
- Pick up food donations from local partners like grocery stores
- Drive mini-van as a shuttle to and from local senior housing community so that seniors can access VEAP food pantry
… and it’s easy!
- There is no minimum commitment
- A typical volunteer shift is 2 ½ hours
- Flexible scheduling: You can schedule yourself based on your availability or have a regular shift
How to qualify:
- Be between the ages of 25 -77 years old
- Provide valid driver’s license and car insurance
- Pass background and driver record checks
- Apply online https://veap.org/become-a-volunteer/