MFB Volunteers: December 2023 Spotlights
Finding Purpose in Volunteering
David Cochran, a long-time resident of Georgia, has found solace and purpose in his volunteer work at Midwest Food Bank Georgia. David's life took a significant turn when he lost his beloved wife and best friend, Kathy, nearly three years ago. In search of a way to occupy his time and stay grounded, he began attending Providence United Methodist Church. Subsequently, David discovered MFB when his Sunday school class volunteered to do a processing project. This encounter led him to become a Core Volunteer and an integral part of the MFB family.
"It's been a blessing to me because this allowed me to do something fulfilling and gratifying and helpful all at the same time," says David. "It's fun, and I love the people I volunteer with. It's just a great place."
For almost a year now, David has been a dedicated member of the MFB Georgia team. Volunteering daily, he unloads food from trucks and organizes pallets in the warehouse, often starting early in the morning and working tirelessly until the day's tasks are complete.
"We are so grateful for David," agree Lina Martin, Volunteer Coordinator for MFB Georgia. "His kindness, positive attitude, and spirit of service truly bring our mission to life."
David's background in IT, where he spent over 40 years in various roles, has proven to be a valuable asset for MFB. When the organization transitioned to the Primarius electronic inventory software, he eagerly volunteered to help set up the hardware and utilize his expertise in technology assessment and implementation.
"Everywhere I go now, I ask people to volunteer if they have time," says David. "I tell them they could come to MFB and do almost anything at this wonderful place, and some people have done that."
A profound life change initially drove David's journey into volunteering, but it has become much more. He relishes the camaraderie of working alongside his fellow volunteers, meeting people from various walks of life who are united by their commitment to helping those in need. For David, MFB feels like family—a place where people come together, share their stories, and contribute their skills to positively impact their community. He is a valued member of the MFB team, and his selflessness inspires others in the organization.
Volunteering is "about giving your heart"
"Volunteering is not just about giving your time; it's about giving your heart." These words, spoken by Steve Vance, sum up his decade-long commitment to Midwest Food Bank Peoria, IL,and his dedication to helping those in need. Steve's MFB volunteer service began about ten years ago when he was approached by Tom Rieker, inviting him to bring a group from his local church.
Born and raised on a farm near Loda, IL, Steve earned a B.S. in Education from Eastern Illinois University and an M.S. degree from the University of Illinois. His career path took him from teaching mathematics at Illinois Valley Central High School in Chillicothe to a 32-year tenure at Caterpillar, mainly in the IT sector. After retiring, Steve devoted his time as a part-time driver for Lutheran Hillside Village for 15 years and served as the treasurer of his local church.
Steve's dedication to the MFB mission is a blessing," says Dominica Rogers, Community Relations and Volunteer Manager at MFB Peoria.
Married to his supportive wife, Carolyn, for nearly 51 years, the couple has two grown daughters and two granddaughters. Together, they've explored all 50 states and ventured to several countries. Beyond family and travel, Steve has found fulfillment in leading mission trips, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, and actively contributing his time and energy to Midwest Food Bank.
Steve likes knowing that the agencies MFB collaborates with provide essential food and supplies to people in need. For him, volunteering at MFB is not just a task; it's a mission to help those who are struggling to make ends meet.
Volunteer shares her time and heart
Rita Arnold is a dedicated volunteer at Midwest Food Bank, Indiana. At 73 years young, Rita, alongside her husband Mike, has been a steadfast presence in our mission for many years. Rita not only serves as a Pick-Team Lead but also occasionally steps up as a leader for the entire distribution. Her commitment to our cause goes beyond logistics as she graciously shares her heart with our volunteers through morning devotions.
During a recent devotion, Rita shared a heartfelt story that resonated with many. She recounted a time "long ago and far away," when she and Mike were struggling financially as young parents. Rita recalled, "Mike made $300 per month, which paid for our monthly rent, gas for our car, and groceries. Two good friends from church would invite us for meals at the end of each month when we didn't have much food left."
When they first received food stamps, she went grocery shopping after their kids went to bed. The next morning, their three-year-old exclaimed, "Someone came into our house while we were asleep and put a whole bunch of food in our refrigerator!" Rita's story reminds us of the importance of community and assistance during difficult times.
"Rita is appreciated by our staff, volunteers, and agency partners," says Marcie Luhigo, Executive Director of MFB Indiana. "Her dedication and willingness to inspire others through her personal experiences make her an invaluable member of our volunteer team."
Rita's story serves as a powerful reminder of the impact Midwest Food Bank has on individuals and families facing food insecurity.
Brightening Days While He Volunteers
As an MFB New England volunteer, Lucas Pierson is a real morale booster, always keeping everyone's spirits high. He helps distribute food, push carts, label bags and boxes during repacking, and more. Lucas has become quite skilled at handling the pallet jack during cleanup. He often partners with his dad, who also volunteers there, and gets along well with everyone.
Lucas enjoys building Lego creations and making cool costumes in his free time. He's the oldest of three siblings, and his family loves traveling to theme parks and haunted houses. He has volunteered with other groups like CT Foodshare and worked as a custodian at the Lutz Children's Museum. Lucas and his family started volunteering at Midwest Food Bank in December last year. One of the aspects he values most about his volunteer work is the opportunity to help people in the community and engage in conversations with fellow volunteers and staff.
"Helping out here keeps me feeling good, and it's important to help our community," says Lucas. "It gives me a sense of accomplishment, especially while I'm looking for a job."
Lucas's volunteer experiences at Midwest Food Bank have brought him some memorable moments, like meeting a volunteer named Orlando (reminding him of Orlando, Florida, and the theme parks he enjoys). He also found it funny that some organizations they help have interesting names, like Crystal Lake, which invokes thoughts of a famous horror movie, and The Rock, which reminds him of a famous actor.
"Lucas works incredibly hard and understands our processes well. He is always on the lookout for something new to learn and uplifts our team with a wonderful sense of humor," says Corey Barette, Volunteer and Community Relations Coordinator for MFB New England. "He and his father, Scott, are an essential part of Midwest Food Bank!"
The Inspiring Story of Missy
Meet Melissa (Missy) Hintze, a dedicated volunteer at Midwest Food Bank Pennsylvania. Missy generously donates her time and spreads awareness of the essential work by MFB within her church community. Her outreach efforts have led to an inspiring collaboration with fellow members of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, who now regularly join her in supporting the food bank's mission. Their collective efforts range from bagging pasta and apples to assisting with cleaning and load-out operations.
"I love working at MFB because their mission is Christ-focused and aligns with our mission," says Missy. "We have met so many good people who are selflessly giving in our communities."
Missy's commitment to Midwest Food Bank Pennsylvania extends beyond volunteering; she was even present when The Church of Jesus Christ delivered a donated refrigerated box truck to aid MFB Pennsylvania further in its mission.
"We are grateful to Missy Hintze for sharing her time, talents, and resources with Midwest Food Bank and inspiring others to do the same," says Kathy Anderson-Martin, Executive Director. "Her dedication and interest in advancing our mission are excellent examples of the positive change one person can bring to their community.
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