Long-time volunteer honored for anti-hunger work

Linda Milewski, right, receiving her 2017 Richard A. Stebbins Volunteer Award

“I like everything about The Food Bank—the people, the working atmosphere, the staff—everything.”

Linda Milewski, a long-time volunteer at The Food Bank, recently received the Human Service Forum 2017 Richard A. Stebbins Volunteer Award at a public presentation ceremony at The Log Cabin.  The award — named for Dick Stebbins (1936 – 2000), a stalwart volunteer in the community — is given annually to an individual who has worked as a volunteer in a non-profit or public human service organization for at least five years and has selflessly given time and expertise to improve the lives of those served by the agency.

Linda has been volunteering at The Food Bank for more than 15 years, becoming a vital member of our day-to-day operations. Volunteering sometimes as many as five days a week, she has the ability to step-in for full-time staff in their absence, train new employees, prepare projects for new volunteers, and complete vital paperwork. Her tireless efforts allow us to consistently provide our member agencies with a steady stream and variety of food choices for their clients. A resident of Hatfield, Linda walks to The Food Bank’s warehouse facilities, even in inclement weather. Her work to end hunger began years ago when a neighbor, who was already volunteering at The Food Bank, encouraged Linda to accompany her to a volunteer shift.

“She stopped by one day and said, ‘Come with me. I’ve been coming ever since,” she said.

In her own time, Linda has visited other hunger relief organizations outside the region, and shared her gained knowledge with The Food Bank. While on a recent vacation, she visited the Nantucket Food Pantry and toured their facility. She returned with numerous ideas to help the efficiency of our warehouse, and provided our staff with valuable networking connections.

With her warm smile and upbeat personality, Linda’s value to the organization extends above and beyond her work-related responsibilities.

“There is a sense of community within our group of volunteers that is fostered by Linda,” explains Mike Cortis, The Food Bank’s Food Operations Manager. Not only does she organize volunteer luncheons in the break room, she also helps recruit new community volunteers through her church.

“Linda has directly affected our volunteers’ ability to sort 1.8 million pounds of food last fiscal year, which we distributed to our member agencies” Cortis adds. “She not only improves the lives of those we serve, but also those that are lucky enough to know her.”

When asked about why she spends so much time volunteering to support hungry individuals in the region, Linda is quick to emphasize that, “We’re here for a purpose—to feed the people who need to be fed. We have to make sure the people get fed.”