Volunteer Spotlight: Laurie Baker
by Megan Hanson, Volunteer
“MOM has grown so much. We’re serving more people than we used to. With what’s going on in the country right now, more people need our services,” says Laurie Baker, a MOM volunteer of eight years and counting. During her time working in the food pantry and warehouse, Laurie has become well acquainted with the wide selection of quality food available to those who use MOM’s services. We asked Laurie to share her experience as a MOM volunteer.
When did you start volunteering at MOM and why?
“I had always kind of wanted to work at a food pantry because I enjoy cooking. I knew I wanted to volunteer somewhere when I retired, so I contacted MOM about working at the food pantry. It was much smaller then, but they found space for me and I liked it. I volunteer a few days each week, getting deliveries and sorting food. I work with a core group of volunteers that have been in the warehouse for a long time, so it’s fun for me to come in.”
What do you like about MOM?
“It’s a lot of fun to volunteer because I like working with food and at the same time I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. I enjoy getting the deliveries. It’s fun to figure out what we need, what the clients want, and then get it on the shelves.
“I remember when I was a young single parent and one of my neighbors was on food stamps. I’d see this commodities box come to their house, full of this awful food, like big blocks of fake cheese…but MOM’s not like that. We have some wonderful donors that keep us supplied with good food. We have things people want; we have whole categories of food we didn’t have when I started. Things like herbs, spices, ketchup, salt.. You have to give people the ability to make food taste good.
“We’re working to get more ethnic food, too. Sometimes we get food where the packaging is in a language we can’t read, but we just put it on the shelves and figure that somebody will be excited to take it! Sometimes clients will translate for us and tell us what a product is and how to use it, which is nice because then we learn something and the clients feel more a part of the experience. I often hear volunteer hosts asking clients how to use different ingredients and exchanging tips.”
What motivates you to continue to volunteer?
“Well, I like it! I like seeing the way it’s grown from what it used to be, and I like providing food to people in a positive way. When we stock the shelves, we try to make it look more like a grocery store. Some pantries aren’t as big and you don’t get as much choice, but we try to always have a good selection of food. We get as much healthy food as we can and we make it look neat and appealing on the shelves. I think it’s nice that MOM doesn’t limit how many times people can come to the pantry, either.”
If someone asked you whether they should volunteer for MOM, what would you say to them?
“I would tell them that I really enjoy volunteering. I enjoy working with my coworkers and I enjoy working with the donors when they come in. I’m always saying ‘who’s this from?’ because I find it interesting and encouraging to see the scope of the donor community. Donors range from large groups to individuals and even children. Plus, on days when I’m in the MOM warehouse sorting and lifting boxes, I don’t have to go to the gym! When I volunteer, I get to do something I like. I feel like I’m providing a useful service and helping people. That’s really nice.”
MOM is always looking for more volunteers! Visit our volunteer website page to learn more about how you can get involved.
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