At least 12.5% of Western Massachusetts residents are living below the poverty line, and that number is growing.
April is National Volunteer Month — a time that we celebrate the people who generously donate their time and talents to support their community. Throughout the month, our dedicated volunteers will be sharing their experience with volunteering and reflect on how it has impacted their own lives.
Matt Goldman, of Hatfield, has been volunteering at The Food Bank since 2013. Every Monday morning, he heads out to a number of Stop & Shop locations throughout Western Massachusetts, picking up donations for our “Retail Rescue” program. Along with fellow volunteer Ken, they have collected more than 30,000 lbs of quality meats and various frozen goods for the growing number people in our community struggling with food insecurity.
My wife and I had always discussed volunteering and giving back some sort of service to people in need. We live very close to The Food Bank, and in 2013, we decided to go to one of their volunteer orientations. We found everyone to be really friendly and flexible to what we were available to do for their cause.
As a self-employed individual, I am very busy throughout the week. However, there was an opportunity for me to assist in picking up frozen foods in nearby supermarkets. Once I started the volunteer service, I found it very gratifying. I felt that I received more in return just by giving a little time in some small way. Just knowing that I could actually do something “hands on” to help made me feel that I was making a big difference in helping feed hungry people (a basic human right).
I really enjoy spending time in the truck with the assigned driver, who is a great guy. We have created a very cooperative routine. We travel to several supermarkets throughout Western Massachusetts. The procedure requires physical labor, which I believe we both find enjoyable. Each store that we go to has its own personality (if you will), which makes it even more interesting. It’s always different, always fun and we help each other do the most efficient job we can.
Volunteering has been a wonderful way to start off my work week (my volunteer work is Monday mornings). When I’m through, I feel better about myself and the people around me. The other employees at the Food Bank are really friendly people and special in their own individual ways. It feels great knowing that everyone is there working—for whatever length of time—to make the world a better place. We are providing support to human beings that need to “survive” in a world that is getting tougher to survive in all the time.
If you have ever considered volunteering, I would recommend that you just go The Food Bank orientation. There is no pressure. There are no contracts to sign. There are no commitments. I believe if you find the time to give of yourself, you will find it a very special experience. If you add all the volunteer hours together, person by person, it makes a big difference. Just try it. Everyone is welcome!
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