As a licensed psychologist, much of Rita’s life was consumed by work and school. But she believes in the importance of giving back and always knew she would volunteer in her retirement when she had more time. “Volunteering is an essential part of who we are as a country,” Rita says. “You have to reach out to other people and put yourself in their shoes.”
Rita was aware of ONT from living in Amesbury, but she says she was naive about what it actually entailed. After orientation, she realized that ONT wasn't just about food, it was about community. She started helping with the computer on Fridays, then added Saturdays, then Thursday and then Wednesdays.
Now a fixture in the Market and Warehouse 4 days a week, Rita enjoys working with new volunteers and showing them how to use the computers at checkout. She’s also likes interacting with the guests and seeing them grow more comfortable with the volunteers each week. “I fully believe that any of us is only a few steps away from needing ONT’s services,” Rita says. “I respect that.”
When she's not at ONT, Rita enjoys photography, art, flowers, gardening, and reading. She has a goal to see all 50 states, she's currently at 25. Thank you Rita, for all of your hard work and dedication to ONT.
If you ask Emily White volunteers, she’ll tell you that she likes to be “part of a local solution.” Emily volunteers in the ONT office and organizes home grocery delivery bags every week. “It’s my favorite day of the week,” Emily says about her Wednesdays with ONT. She also helps with special projects like ONT’s Easter baskets, bags for homeless men and women, and food drive sorting. A mom of 4, Emily has brought her children to volunteer with her to teach them about giving back to their community (pictured here with her son).
Emily moved to Amesbury in 2006 and began teaching Italian with ONT’s neighbor, the Sparhawk School. She was involved with volunteer activities with ONT through the school, but always thought it would be nice to get more involved if she had extra time. Now a stay at home mother, Emily has carved some time out of her busy schedule to volunteer at ONT every Wednesday. Emily also volunteers in the library at the Amesbury Middle School where her middle son is a student. Emily brings a host of skills and experience to ONT, and will be our on-call Italian interpreter if the need ever arises. Emily says that she enjoyed the fulfillment of volunteering when she began last fall, but it has grown into something greater as she realized how special the Our Neighbors’ Table community is.
Want to join Emily as a volunteer? Fill out a volunteer application today!
Have you ever wondered how Our Neighbors’ Table gets all of its food? Well, a large part of it comes from the Greater Boston Food Bank located in South Boston. And thanks to Amesbury resident and ONT volunteer Mike Pollard, it arrives at our Market and into the shopping carts of our guests. Twice a week, Mike drives the ONT box truck down to Boston and brings it back to the Jardis-Taylor Center full of pallets of fresh produce, dairy, meat, and non-perishable items. Mike logs over 165 miles per week for ONT and we would be lost without him!
Mike has been volunteering for ONT for a long time—so long in fact, he can’t remember when he started! He thinks it’s been about four or five years. He began volunteering after he retired from his career as a self-employed chimney sweep. “I had a lot of time on my hands,” Mike said. “I liked the idea of driving. I was a little involved in social programs before but was frustrated not knowing if I was doing things effectively. Driving a truck is straight forward, and I know I’m doing it right.”
Mike is also a key piece of the Merrimac Mobile Market. He drives the truck full of fresh produce and wholesome food to the Merrimac Senior Center one Saturday a month. Mike has a valued volunteerism for much of his life. He served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in 1970 with New Hampshire Legal Services. When he’s not volunteering with ONT, Mike enjoys exercising, reading, spending time with his wife and finding the best baked goods to satisfy his sweet tooth.
When asked why he volunteers Mike says, “I like giving to the community. It makes me feel good and it’s satisfying. I like being reliable and I believe providing food to people is really important.”
Want to volunteer like Mike? Complete our volunteer application and we'll get you started!
Rose Sheehan volunteers primarily in the Our Neighbors’ Table office, though she says with a smile she will always help “wherever I’m needed.” Rose joined the ONT volunteer corps a few months ago after reading about ONT online and hearing good reviews from friends. Rose is 18 and currently taking a gap year after graduating from Pingree Academy. “I have a lot of free time right now,” said Rose, “I’m figuring myself out and am happy to have the opportunity to give back to my community.”
Rose’s first day volunteering with ONT left a lasting impression on her. She was helping in the market as a Customer Service Representative and one of the first guests to come in have her a big hug. After that she was hooked! Rose previously volunteered with the Food Project, working at farmers’ markets and social and food justice workshops, and is currently involved with the Newburyport Literary Festival. During her time volunteering in the ONT office, Rose has learned administrative skills and has gained insight into non-profit work which may inform her future career choices. We are grateful for Rose’s help at ONT!
William “Will” Mauch is a 20-year-old Amesbury resident who works behind the scenes restocking the Our Neighbors’ Table market. Will started volunteering with ONT when he was in high school, energetically lugging food up and down the stairs in our old basement food storage area, helping guests bring groceries to their cars, and greeting folks in the old pantry. About volunteering in the Jardis-Taylor center verses our old facility Will says, “There’s more space, easier to find things, it is very organized. I like the system of shopping with carts. It’s a nice building, I like it a lot.”
This fall, Will enters his sophomore year at Landmark College, studying Liberal Arts. Will first got involved with ONT through donating to food drives organized by his church, Saint James Episcopal Church in Amesbury. This summer Will has become a crucial part of ONT’s market support operations, stocking shelves and making sure the market is up to ONT’s high quality standard before it opens every Thursday. He even has contributed to our volunteer recruitment, he convinced his friend Brandon to work alongside him in the market this summer. Will and Brandon bring young energy and meticulous care to their time volunteering in the ONT market. Will generously shares a bit of his time and dynamism with ONT by volunteering. When asked why he volunteers he declares, “At first it was for volunteer hours, but now it is because I like helping people out. It feels good to help people who need it and to give back to the community.”
Each year Our Neighbors’ Table (ONT) has over 400 individual volunteers who contribute over 300 hours each week. A huge part of the heart of this organization is showing volunteers how much they are appreciated. You may not have known that we have a committee, made up of volunteers, who helps us to do this! This month we have decided to feature the Volunteer Appreciation Committee in our Volunteer Spotlight.
The Volunteer Appreciation Committee came about as a result of ONT’s 2012 Strategic Plan. It was determined that there was a need to formalize a group that could provide a level of support that the limited number of staff could not. This committee was set forth to be the hands and feet of ONT, recognizing the needs of our volunteers and appreciating the countless hours that are put forth in making ONT run. Improving the overall satisfaction of ONT volunteers will contribute to the longevity and sustainability of reaching our neighbors in their time of need.
Over the past four years the committee has hosted an annual volunteer appreciation event to gather volunteers across programs to thank them for contributing their time and energy to help ONT fight hunger in our region. The committee is currently working hard on planning a big event for ONT’s 25th Anniversary. We will be doing something special to honor and recognize our volunteers. It’s going to be a big party and you all are invited! Stay tuned…you’ll hear more in the coming months as plans come together!
Each year as ONT grows, this committee is unified in purpose to make the volunteer experience a memorable one. We value each person and every minute they support us with their time and talents. This is a small piece in the big picture of how we come together as a community and care for one another. If you are interested in learning how you can get involved with this committee, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Sue Andrews at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An interview with Betty...