SFBFS Volunteer Spotlight – February 2012
Emma Makdessi did not want the typical 9 to 5 job after college. Likewise, Tara Branson felt indecision about the path she would take after graduation. But both Makdessi and Branson knew that they wanted to travel, make connections and have meaningful experiences. Their paths would converge when both Makdessi and Branson joined the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), a full time, team based AmeriCorps program for men and women ages 18 to 24.
For the past four months Makdessi, Branson and the nine other individuals who make up NCCC’s Green 1 team would share in the joys and challenges of working and serving local families, and ultimately become incorporated into Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services’ (SFBFS) volunteer corps.
The team members worked within programs at both of SFBFS’ facilities in Oak Park and North Sacramento and had the opportunity to help with SFBFS’ major holiday events including the Turkey Drive, Turkey Distribution and Run to Feed the Hungry.green1
Green 1 Team Leader, Mike Kamen, sums up his experience at SFBFS as one of being in a state of constant learning and surprise. "During my service at SFBFS, I have learned that while Sacramento has significant needs concerning poverty, hunger and homelessness, people also have a very strong desire to perform service and to help their fellow man."
Most of the team members were impressed by the incredible numbers of community members giving and receiving throughout the annual holiday events. At both the Turkey Drive and Run to Feed the Hungry, the team was amazed with the outpouring of community support. "The community feel at the Run to Feed the Hungry is pretty obvious," Justin Slay said, commenting on the event that drew 26,844 participants. "Just the scale was amazing and even the dedication, I mean, it was raining!"
Scottie Grimes echoed the team’s sentiment when recalling the line that stretched almost a mile long to McClatchy Park the morning of the Turkey Distribution. "There were lots of questions from people in line. ‘Will there be enough? Will you run out?’ It was heart wrenching, but nice to reassure them that there will be enough," Grimes said.
It was not just the large events that made a lasting impression on the team but also the everyday operations at SFBFS. "It’s the really small moments that are memorable," said Makdessi, reflecting on interacting with clients at weekly food distributions, "I remember a woman standing next to me laughing…People forget we’re all human. We have ups, downs, but we can all laugh and smile."
For Green 1, who has moved on to their next service site in San Diego, the feeling that they have leaving SFBFS is one of family and community, not only among themselves, but among the staff and the many clients they served.
If you are interested in volunteering your time to help someone in need in our community, click here for more information.
Disclosure: This article was written by Jessy Wei, an Americorps VISTA member at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.