This Spring, ASA said farewell to some of our longtime volunteers: Tom Wilmore and Linda McGee. Regular faces at the Food Bank, Tom and Linda will be missed! After receiving an award from ASA for their service, Linda sent us this blog post about their time here.

My husband Tom and I volunteered at the ASA Food Bank for almost 2 years. In April 2014, we left Austin and moved to Washington State.

Tom and Linda Award 1

Amos, Tom, Linda, Jim

Leaving our friends in Austin has been the most difficult part of the move, and among those friends, ASA is at the top of the list.

For years Tom and I were ASA Star Partners and attended ASA functions (Red Ribbon Dinners and Viva). When we retired we started looking for volunteering opportunities. ASA came to mind immediately. After a short training session and a background check, I began volunteering at the ASA Food Bank. Inspired by my reports, my husband joined me a few months later.

Volunteering at the ASA Food Bank was rewarding in so many ways. Below are just a few areas where I believe ASA shines as a volunteer opportunity.

First, the staff and long-time volunteers in the Food Bank have organized the processing and delivery of food so well that a first-time volunteer can engage in immediate hands-on tasks–from stocking shelves to filling clients’ food orders. The Food Bank calendar is prepared every quarter, so volunteers know for 3 months in advance when their services will be needed. The staff also keeps volunteers up to date weekly via email. This level of organization gives volunteers meaningful tasks from the first day and allows them to effectively organize their volunteering time.

Second, the diversity and openness of the staff and volunteers make everyone feel welcome and included. The conversation, the cooperation, and the social events quickly turn volunteers into friends.

Tom and Linda Award 3

Julie, Jim, Tom, Linda, Sue, Amos

And, most importantly, you could feel the enthusiasm and compassion at the Food Bank. We were all aware that the people who used the Food Bank were living with a serious disease, and many had been marginalized and stigmatized because of that illness. Because of that awareness, the staff and volunteers welcome and attend to the clients with commitment and empathy. They create a welcoming, cheerful environment where clients feel comfortable seeking help and asking for assistance.

The strongest evidence of the ASA Food Bank’s strength as a volunteer opportunity…a number of our clients are also active volunteers!

In closing, if you want to volunteer where your work will do a world of good, where you can jump in immediately and make a difference, meet people and have a great time while you work…the ASA Food Bank needs your commitment and enthusiasm.