Long-time volunteer goes the extra mile to end hunger
During most days of the week, Linda Milewski can be found in The Food Bank warehouse, sorting food and training new volunteers. As she lives just down the road, she walks or rides her bike over when the weather permits. She has been volunteering at The Food Bank for fifteen years and regularly goes beyond the call of duty to give back.
Raised in Whately, Linda has lived in Hatfield for 42 years. She and her husband made the move after getting married, and have lived in the same house ever since. Following a 20 year career with the Hatfield Public Schools, Linda now spends her time tending to the 31 fruit trees she has planted in her yard. She enjoys canning fruit, jam and jelly — some of which she sells at local craft fairs. And of course, she spends much of her time at The Food Bank.
“My friend Helen was a volunteer. She said ‘Are you bored? Come with me!’” explains Linda. That was in 2000 — and she has been at The Food Bank ever since.
In that time, she has gotten to know a lot of the staff, including Food Processing Coordinator Kate Albrecht. Linda has learned so much in her time here that she received a special “Kate’s Stunt Double” award at our Volunteer Appreciation Picnic in the fall, recognizing her ability to fill in for Kate when she is out.
This title became especially literal when Kate recently broke her arm and was out for an extended period of time. Upon learning of Kate’s injury, Linda offered to fill in and has been voluntarily working full-time hours, making sure that the essential process of food sorting continues to run smoothly.
“We’re super lucky to have her,” says Justin Costa, Warehouse Coordinator. “Linda has been here so long she knows the routine and the other volunteers. Knowing she’s back there, I know it’s under control.”
Linda finds it especially rewarding to see how quickly the food arrives and is then distributed to those who need it. Oftentimes, she says, fresh produce arrives and is picked up by local food pantries so quickly that unless you were in the warehouse, you’d never know it was even here.
“She has a great sense of humor and pretty much fills any room with good energy,” says Erin Sullivan, Volunteer Coordinator at The Food Bank. “She’s also very smart and has an incredible understanding of the best ways to set up and execute sorting projects. If we have a one-time group and Linda is running the show, I know they’re going to have a clear idea of what they’re supposed to do.”
Linda is truly a member of The Food Bank family and her hard work and dedication is appreciated by the entire staff.
“She’s really great,” says Justin. “We try to tell her at least three times a day.”