Over one million hours of service provided to Greater Cincinnati. Over 800,000 members nationwide since 1994. That’s AmeriCorps.
This week, we celebrate AmeriCorps Week with the theme AmeriCorps Works. This is a nationally-designated week to celebrate the contributions of Americans from all walks of life who have chosen to dedicate time and energy to “getting things done” for communities across the country. AmeriCorps members rebuild communities devastated by natural disasters, mentor children, coordinate volunteers, develop programs, and build capacity for non-profit organizations.
At Freestore Foodbank, we currently host 9 full-time AmeriCorps members (State Direct, VISTA, and Public Ally) and employ 4 program alumni. From coordinating the logistics of the Power Pack Program to coordinating volunteer groups at the distribution center, our AmeriCorps members prove everyday that this program is an effective tool for helping us to do more toward meeting our mission.
Meet Our AmeriCorps Members!
Andy, Kids Cafe Coordinator
One of the things that I’ve learned during my AmeriCorps experience with the Freestore Foodbank is the importance of partnerships. The Freestore does so much with their many programs but could not do what they do without their many partners. The old saying it takes a village to raise a child seems to apply very well especially with my position as Kids Cafe VISTA. All these children are benefiting from so many partnerships that are needed to keep this program running.
Andy, Mayerson Distribution Center Volunteer Coordinator
Through my AmeriCorps service at Freestore Foodbank, I have learned a great deal not only about the community of Cincinnati but also about myself. If there’s one key point that I take to heart it’s the notion of whether an individual can make a difference in his or her community. It can be overwhelming to think of all the changes you want to make in the world and how small the effect of just one person is. You know, the whole “one drop in the bucket” mentality. It takes a long time to fill that bucket! This, of course, was what I thought upon entering AmeriCorps. That couldn’t be further from the truth. My efforts were not some solo endeavor meant to change the world overnight. Instead I’ve joined forces with an interwoven web of like minded individuals, people who were brought together by AmeriCorps and who have all realized the need to fill that metaphorical bucket mentioned above. In short, I’ve become more positive on my outlook in the world. There are plenty of people trying their hardest to change the world for the better; AmeriCorps just happens to have a monopoly on most of them.
April, Food Room Volunteer Coordinator
Through my AmeriCorps service at Freestore Foodbank, I have learned that being of service to the community is gratifying and very much needed. I’ve seen individuals at their lowest points in their life come to the Freestore for that much need assistance, whether it be for food, clothing, housing assistance, etc. I’ve learned that with our economy being in such crisis that it has increased the number of those needing assistance each month. The individuals who frequent the Freestore are no different from you and I. Somehow they have gotten off track and need a little support through those tough times. I’ve learned that not everyone who walks through those doors is in need of something, in fact, some are here because they know that we need them as well by volunteering their time to help others. I try to treat others the way I would want to be treated. If the shoe was on the other foot, I would hope they would treat me with respect and understanding. I really enjoy the work I do at the Freestore; it gives me hope for our future as a society.
Detricch, Community Organizer and Capacity Development Assistant
Through my AmeriCorps service at Freestore Foodbank, I have learned that people, in spite of the circumstances that life has bought them to, still need to be treated with dignity and respect. With modern technology (e-mai) and the fast pace society moves by, personal interaction is vital. Hearing and speaking with the public gives you a chance to see in their eyes and hear in their voice the sincerity of their situation and passion they have in helping those in need.
Harrison, Power Pack Coordinator
One of the many things that I learned through my service as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Freestore Foodbank is the great importance of programs that support people in poverty. Every month we receive feedback about the Power Pack program and often it is both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Without the Power Pack program some of these children would experience hunger every weekend. Being part of the safety net that supports these children inspires me to do more.
Jillian, Mayerson Distribution Center Volunteer Coordinator
My time as an AmeriCorps member at the Freestore FoodBank has taught me a great deal about hunger in our community and the importance of service. Being educated about the serious hunger issue in the greater Cincinnati area is crucial to fighting this epidemic. Upon moving to Cincinnati I knew very little of the poverty and food issues that this city faces on a daily basis, and learning how wide and deep these issues go are one of the greatest things I will take away from my service here. Seeing how the Freestore and individuals fight hunger in our community has been very eye-opening. Seeing individuals take time to volunteer and knowing that the Freestore could not operate without them shows how crucial service is to hunger and our community as a whole. AmeriCorps has given me the wonderful opportunity to help the community while at the same time learning about the community as a whole.
Maureen, S&O Training and Implementation Coordinator
Through my AmeriCorps VISTA service at Freestore Foodbank I have learned what a blessing it is to be able to continue to share talents and skills even after reaching retirement age – most especially with an organization like the Freestore whose purpose is so real and positive. Having worked in non-profit organizations throughout my professional career, the realities of struggle in low income communities are well known to me. Here at the Freestore I can continue my commitment to working for justice and making a difference every day.
Shay, Social Services Special Projects Coordinator
Through my AmeriCorps service at the Freestore Foodbank I have learned that hunger effects everyone not just African Americans or those from impoverished neighborhoods. I have seen clients in need from the homeless, to the working poor, to the retired. Serving these diverse groups of people has opened my eyes to understanding social security and the importance of budgeting.
Tawanda, Volunteer Recruitment and Training Coordinator
I’ve learned the importance of volunteers and the key role they play in a non-profit organization, especially an organization centered around social services. The Freestore Foodbank exemplifies what it means to give back to the community; in a time where so many are experiencing hunger and homelessness sometimes for the very first time in their lives due to an economic occurrence. This is my second year of service as an AmeriCorps member; my first term of service was in the social services department where I had a firsthand experience of working with customers, listening to their stories of hardship, how they came into that situation and how hard it was to get out of it due to the economy and lack of jobs. It gave me great joy in being able to assist them, even temporarily, by providing food or referrals for other services to other agencies. My current term of service in volunteer services is an indirect service approach but just as vital as working in the social services department. Without volunteers to assist in day to day operations or events, the Freestore wouldn’t be able to produce nor provide the services offered with ease. I am proud to be at the center of recruiting and coordinating volunteers in the various roles needed to make the Freestore Foodbank thrive in production and efficiency. I’m proud to be an AmeriCorps member and doing my term of service with such a great organization as the Freestore Foodbank!