Our Neighbors’ Table is pleased to announce that we have been certified by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, as a Service Enterprise! Achieving Service Enterprise certification is a prestigious accomplishment for an organization. Our Neighbors’ Table has joined the top 11 percent of nonprofits nationwide in volunteer management and organizational performance. Certification signifies that organizations have the capability and management expertise to strategically use volunteers to improve the performance of their organization.
ONT completed an extensive assessment, over 20 hours of training and coaching, and an extensive internal planning process to continue to improve how we integrate volunteers in all aspects of our organization and service delivery. By achieving this level of excellence and certification, Our Neighbors’ Table is now optimizing how we leverage the time and talent of volunteers to achieve our goal of universal food access.
“As an organization that operated solely with volunteers for 18 years, it was an important exercise for our team of staff to understand the unique context of working in a volunteer-led mission," said Lyndsey Haight, ONT’s Executive Director. “Going through the Service Enterprise process helped us to ensure that we are engaging and supporting volunteers to the best of our ability.”
Volunteers are an engrained part of ONT's culture and are essential for our service delivery. As an organization founded by volunteers with such strong roots in volunteerism, ONT is proud to be recognized for the participation volunteers have in our mission!
The Service Enterprise program is a national change management program that helps organizations gain a greater return on volunteer investment to better achieve their mission. For more information regarding volunteer opportunities with ONT, please visit ourneighborstable.org/volunteer. For further information regarding Service Enterprise, please contact the Massachusetts Service Alliance.
Volunteer Spotlight - Kathy Berman
Kathy Berman had been part of the ONT community as a donor for years. A Certified Public Accountant, Kathy says she had always planned to do “hands-on volunteering somewhere” when she retired. Once she cut back her work hours to part time, she decided to join ONT’s volunteer team and donate her time as well. Kathy has helped out at our Wednesday meal, done customer service in the market, stocked shelves, and worked in the warehouse. These days you can find Kathy in our non-perishables stocking room on Saturdays, filling guests’ orders.
“I like the people I work with, the other volunteers and the guests,” Kathy says about how she enjoys coming to ONT. “I grew up poor, and we went without a lot, but we never had to worry about food, but I know there are so many people now who go without meals.”
The desire to be part of helping to feed her community is what keeps Kathy coming back to pack grocery bags for ONT’s guests. On those Saturdays when the alarm rings early and she wants to stay in bed, she remembers that “it’s feeding people,” and she always gets up and comes in to pack.
Once Kathy saw how things worked behind the scenes at ONT, she felt good about her decision to be a regular member of the volunteer crew and a donor. “What amazes me about here is that the guests have a choice in food,” Kathy says. “It makes me proud. I’m proud of this place.” ONT couldn’t run without its dedicated volunteers like Kathy, and we’re proud of her too!
Volunteer Spotlight - Eve Lee
Eve Lee was not familiar with Our Neighbors’ Table when she was invited by a friend to attend ONT’s Annual Breakfast in October of 2016. “I saw all of the amazing things happening at this impactful organization and the amazing people that were involved and I was hooked,” Eve said of her first breakfast experience. She started volunteering in the Market a couple of Saturdays a month, which accommodated her travel schedule for her job in marketing at a medical device company. Soon Eve found herself on the fundraising committee, where she chaired and created ONT’s Fill ‘Em Up Fest. After joining the board in 2018, she started her term as board chair in June of this year. But her weekly volunteering in the Market remains a priority for her.
“I love working up front at the Market check-in and now at the outside pickup line because I get to interact with guests and get to know them as my neighbors,” Eve said. “Now I even recognize their cars when they drive up!”
Eve had been active with other food security organizations when she lived in Boston, but she says that ONT’s sense of community, where volunteers, guests and staff come together to form a community, feels different than any other place she has volunteered. As board chair, she looks forward to having even more people join the ONT community. “I think more people have realized during the pandemic just how many of our neighbors are on the brink of food insecurity,” Eve said. “And a potential good thing to come out of this situation is that more folks will want to volunteer or financially support organizations like ONT.”
P.S. This year’s Annual Breakfast will be broadcast on Oct. 20. Don’t miss this inspirational event that first hooked Eve!
When Heather McPeake sat in ONT’s community room for volunteer orientation in the summer of 2018, she never imagined she would be in the same room; packing grocery orders in a face mask. Heather and her daughter came to ONT because she wanted to give back her community and do something meaningful with her teenage daughter. The two enjoyed volunteering together stocking shelves in the Market.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Heather found herself working from her home in Amesbury 4 days a week for a law firm. “I hadn’t volunteered for awhile and I was feeling like I wanted to do something help during the crisis,” Heather said. And help she is! Heather has answered the call and is helping in 2 crucial areas of ONT’s program operations. On Wednesdays, she helps pre-pack the dry goods for the Newburyport pick-up orders. Heather she loves the organization of checking off the packing list and making sure the guest gets everything they ordered.
Heather is also part of our remote support team, helping guest with their customized grocery orders over the phone if they don’t have internet access to place their order. “I love talking to the guests on the phone,” she said. “Everyone is so nice, you can tell how appreciative they are for ONT.” Despite the programmatic changes, Heather says that the ONT atmosphere is still the same. She loves the team spirit and working side by side (from a safe distance!) with her neighbors to help each other.
Heather and her husband have called Amesbury home for 15 years. When not at ONT, she loves to cook, do yoga and go for nature walks with her 15-year-old daughter. If you see her out walking her yorkie, Elsie, be sure to wave hello!
With spring fast approaching (hopefully!), Our Neighbors' Table is looking to our annual tradition of giving out Easter baskets filled with toys and candy to our families with children. It's a small touch that brings a lot of happiness to children (and their parents) this time of year.
But in order to make it happen, we need YOUR help! There are 2 ways to help, by giving time and/or items for the baskets.
1. Fill a Child’s Easter Basket
2. Volunteer to help assemble Easter Baskets – KID FRIENDLY!
Thank you in advance for your help in bringing Easter joy to our local children and families this spring!
Volunteer Spotlight - Rose Cole
Meet Rose Cole, a volunteer who wears many different hats at Our Neighbors’ Table. Rose heard about Our Neighbors’ Table through word of mouth, and first got involved in 2015 when ONT was headquartered out of the Main Street Congregational Church. A few years later, Rose retired from her work doing bookkeeping and she began volunteering more regularly at ONT’s brand new location at the Jardis-Taylor Center. Now, Rose volunteers every Thursday at the Newburyport Market, as well as every Friday doing check-in for the Amesbury Market, and Rose serves on the Volunteer Appreciation Committee. Rose says one of her favorite things about ONT is the camaraderie among volunteers, “When there’s a volunteer who has something going on in their life-- others help out. It feels really good to be a part of that.”
Rose was key in helping to start ONT’s Newburyport Market in 2018. ONT’s Mobile Market Manager Tracy Kane says, “It took a lot to get the Newburyport Market off the ground, and more importantly to show new guests coming to it that they were welcomed and safe. Rose was extremely helpful and patient while we got all that going, helping to demonstrate ONT’s core values.” Rose has helped with hosting the last two year’s Volunteer Appreciation BBQs in June. Rose says “I like to think about what other volunteers do, and how to honor them.”
When Rose isn’t at ONT, she likes to garden and get lunch with her girlfriends. Rose and her husband spend about a month in Florida in February or March each year. Rose has been treasurer for the last five years of a group called “Amesbury for Africa” which partners with a village in Kenya. Rose has visited Esabalu, Kenya twice.
Next time you’re at ONT on a Friday morning, say hi to Rose!
Did you know you can volunteer at the ONT Market with your children? ONT’s WEE Can Help! program provides a wonderful opportunity for children ages 4-10 to come in for a Market Stocking shift! Young volunteers perform the important task of restocking our shelves on Wednesdays from 4-5pm. This is a great chance for parents to teach their children about giving back to their community in a kid-friendly space.
The program is limited to ensure the best experience for every volunteer. All children must be accompanied by an adult that has attended volunteer orientation prior to coming in for a shift. If you have not attended an orientation yet but would like to, please fill out an online volunteer application here. WEE Can Help! is ideal for individual families rather than large groups.
If you’re looking for an opportunity that is suitable for both individuals and groups, consider Fill ‘Em Up Bags! All are welcome to participate in this program at any age, whether they’ve been through orientation or not.
The goal for each person participating in Fill ‘Em Up Bags is to raise $30. This would provide dinner to a child for a whole month! Each participant will decorate their Fill ‘Em Up Bag, then ask friends and family to help fill the bag. No donation is too small. $1 or $10, every donation counts! (Please do not collect food items. Checks made out to Our Neighbors’ Table also accepted.)
Ready to get started? Download the Fill ‘Em Up Bag logo, color it, and attach it to the bag (brown bag, grocery bag, gift bag, etc.). Once you’re finished fundraising, contact Melanie to arrange a time to drop-off. We’d love to give your kids a tour so they can see the impact of their donations!
If you have any questions about any of the above, please don’t hesitate to email Melanie or call (978) 388-1907 x. 21.
Volunteer Spotlight- Lisa Flynn
Lisa Flynn wasted no time diving into volunteering after she retired, and it didn’t take her long to become a regular volunteer with Our Neighbors’ Table! Lisa retired from Welch’s (the jam and jelly company) in December last year and came to ONT volunteer orientation at the beginning of February. Lisa’s friends and amazing ONT volunteers Beth and Alan Ayres highly recommended Our Neighbors’ Table. Lisa immediately felt the power and warmth of the ONT community. “It feeds the soul,” Lisa will tell you, “The people- volunteers, guests, staff—good people doing good things.”
Very quickly, Lisa was volunteering every week at the Wednesday Meal (she’s the “Salad and Soup Lady”) and in the ONT office as receptionist. Lisa shares her professional skills by meticulously assisting ONT’s development team with thank you letters for donations, but her real passion lies in working directly with guests. “I love working with people, and being able to make someone’s life a tiny bit better feels better than anything else in this world.” She looks forward to getting trained as a guest intake volunteer so she can welcome new market guests and help them get the resources they need.
Lisa lives in Newburyport with her husband Dennis. In her free time she enjoys baking (the products of which she shares with staff and volunteers at ONT!), crocheting, and spending time with her family and dog.
Volunteer Spotlight- Rita Comtois
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.
Volunteer Spotlight- Emily White
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!