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Volunteer's life experiences enhance her work at MFB Peoria

When Whitney Creath lifts a heavy box during food distribution days, she knows she is lightening the load for a family. She knows because, as a teenager, her family relied on food banks, Ramen noodles, and peanut butter and jelly for some difficult years.

"I remember thinking, 'when I grow up, I want to be an adult that helps make things better for someone else," says Whitney. "That's why I volunteer."

She volunteers at Midwest Food Bank Peoria on distribution days and assists with the MFB social media team by taking photos and videos and writing content.

"I grew up in a food-insecure household," says Whitney. "My amazing parents are both military veterans that proudly served and were injured during their years of service."

Her Dad was forced into disability retirement, and because of his specialty training, it wasn't easy for him to find a job. Whitney's grandmother also came to live with the family as they cared for her through dementia until her passing.

As these life events unfolded over a couple of years, the family also experienced the foreclosure of their home.
"Loading each box of food during distribution made my teenage years a little lighter and easier to bear because volunteering meant I wasn't wasting that time," says Whitney.

Today, Whitney is a wife and mother of five. Her family moved to Illinois about 16 years ago. She says "taking care of her people" is her full-time job. She also enjoys hiking, a hammock on the beach at Lake Michigan, camping, and road-tripping with family and friends.

She's made new friends at MFB, too. On her first day, other volunteers welcomed her with open arms, and she found herself in the back of pick-ups and vans loading food. She laughed and talked with other volunteers as they served the many partners that get food from MFB. She left with a smile and the soreness of a hard day's work.

"The beautiful thing about my experience that day was there was a job for everyone; 90-year-olds were helping, people were checking shopping lists, and everyone was looking out for the safety of others while forklifts continually brought more food boxes," says Whitney. "The amount of work that got done in a few hours was impressive."

"Whitney is an inspiration and helps MFB in so many ways," says Monica Scheurer, Executive Director of MFB Peoria. "Her perspective, experiences, and outlook on life remind us of why we do what we do at Midwest Food Bank."

While her teenage years were rough and complex, those experiences shaped her into the person she is today.

"Those lessons are worth something if they taught me to be able to help someone else," says Whitney. "Volunteering at MFB has helped me feel known and seen and gave me the gift of helping heal that girl I once was."

Volunteers come with many experiences, and Whitney's first-hand knowledge gives us a new perspective on our mission. 

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