You probably know the acronym PTO, short for Paid Time Off, but have you ever heard of VTO—Volunteer Time Off? David Berlind says “I was a chronic procrastinator about volunteering, I always had an excuse. But then my company said take 56 hours a year and go work for someone else. So, I didn’t have any excuses anymore.”
David came to ONT volunteer orientation in January 2019, and quickly got involved doing restocking in the market on Wednesdays and food donation pickups on Thursdays. David logged his volunteer hours with the company he works for, Salesforce. Doing two, sometimes three shifts every week though, David hit his 56 hours of VTO pretty quickly. But according to David, “I can’t stop. I feel like I’m now part of a family.” In August, Salesforce awarded Our Neighbors’ Table a “Volunteer Rockstar Grant” in David’s name.
David will tell you one of the things he loves about ONT is its size and local impact. “Because it’s small, you get to see the effectiveness of the organization. You get to know guests, and their kids.” When David first inquired about volunteering, he says he envisioned a food pantry with the bare necessities. Now, he has realized ONT is able to bring joy and abundance to families that can’t normally afford treats like the cakes David picks up from Stop and Shop on his usual Thursday volunteer shift. David echoes a sentiment that is common among our volunteers, “Any one of use could get something that knocks us off our feet. It’s up to the rest of us to take care of one another, especially in this political climate.” David has lived in Newburyport since 2003. When he is not working or volunteering, he likes to fix old radios and amps, play guitar, sail, and be with his family.