VEAP loves our volunteer corps of 3,000 people! In our Volunteer Spotlight series, we highlight their amazing work and dedication in advancing VEAP’s mission.
When did you get involved with VEAP?
Years ago I was aware of VEAP because I served on our church and society committee and we supported VEAP. I got to know VEAP even more because at my current church, Normandale Hylands United Methodist, there are more than 30-35 members who are VEAP volunteers. About two weeks before I was to retire I was sitting next to my friend Bev Koser at Sunday service. Bev said to me, “What are you going to do on Wednesday mornings? I’ve got an opportunity for you!” I came to VEAP the week before I retired and I thought this was pretty cool. I worked in an office my whole life doing technical work and volunteering here I’ve learned that there is a definite satisfaction in doing physical labor. I started sorting produce in the old building then I asked a VEAP staff person, when do you really need help? They said Friday afternoons so I started volunteering then because people who come in Fridays still need food. Then I noticed there was spoiled food in the cases on Wednesday mornings so I started working Tuesdays afternoons. I knew that if I wanted it to be different, I needed to come in. I really want the pantry to look like a supermarket, nice and orderly. I think it helps people move through quicker.
What volunteer roles do have with VEAP? What is your favorite?
Warehouse, Data Entry, Hospitality Team, Grounds Crew. I started stocking on Friday afternoons in the old building, it was a real challenge with the limited space, elevators, and moving carts around. It was truly a challenge when the elevator broke down! Instead of a water brigade we had a bread brigade. Moving to this building was a real change, it is just amazing what VEAP can do. I really like stocking and getting things out as quickly as possible, it’s a lot of fun. I always tell people that I work in the land of marginal produce.
What keeps you volunteering with VEAP?
There are a lot of things that need attention in the world but when I saw the volume of food moving through VEAP and how quickly things spoil, I knew this was where I needed to be. It breaks my heart to throw things out. I come from a family of 5 kids and when I was young my mom would go to the back of the grocery store to shop in the bruised produce area. They don’t have that area anymore in stores; now that food comes to places like VEAP. I really like the idea of getting food to people who can use it, food is such a basic need. You can’t live if you don’t have food.
Is there a particular moment or favorite memory that stands out from volunteering?
There are so many, a few really stand out. About 4 years ago a single mother came in late in the day, around 4:45 p.m., she had her baby in a stroller and she didn’t have a car. She was really glad to see the variety of food available. I didn’t see until she was done shopping that the entire side of her face was black and blue. She really was a lovely woman with a little baby and no place to go. She was staying at temporary shelter and she was so grateful for how VEAP could help her. Another memory that stands out is about a volunteer. A woman came to volunteer, she was in her 40s and her 12 year old son came along with her to volunteer in the warehouse. She arranged her schedule so that she could volunteer, she was an operating room nurse. She specifically wanted to bring her son because some years earlier her husband walked out on her with 3 small children. She was a stay at home mom at the time. Because VEAP was here, she went to school to get a nursing degree and she wanted her son to see what VEAP did to help them. Another time I saw a mother and father come in with their 2 week old baby and it was very cold out. I knew that you just don’t take your baby out in that kind of weather unless you really need the food. There are so many moments like that volunteering here. The fact that VEAP is here and able to provide for people in a time when they need the help, when they truly have no place else to turn–that’s why I keep coming back.
What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
My middle name is Adaire. I was named for my father’s old girlfriend.
What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
I clean house, do laundry. I also really flowers. I used to like vegetable gardening but we moved to townhouse so now I only have planters. I read when I get a chance. I always have several books alongside the bed and I’m in a book club, we read a lot of really interesting books. We just finished Small Graces.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering at VEAP?
I tell people all the time! VEAP is so well managed and money goes so far to help people. I like the warehouse area but there is really something for everyone here, so many different opportunities!
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