Category Archives: Volunteer

Grand Opening of New Kids Cafe® Facility Expands Production of Meals For Hungry Children

It was a long-awaited, much-anticipated celebration of progress on Apr. 7 when the Kids Cafe program opened the doors to its new meal preparation facility at the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance Surprise facility.

The Kids Cafe program provides an important after school meal for at-risk kids who receive breakfast and lunch at school but in many cases don’t have a dinner meal waiting for them at home. One in four children in Arizona today are living in poverty, amounting to more than 260,000 children in Maricopa Country alone. Kids Cafe seeks to feed as many school-age children as possible.

“This expansion has been years in the making, and we’re very excited that the day is finally here,” said Laura Brill, Kids Cafe program manager. “The statistics of childhood hunger in Arizona are disturbing and unacceptable. This is the future of Arizona, and we feel like we need to invest now.”

What was a 200-square-foot area for volunteers to make sandwiches has expanded to an 8,500-square-foot facility that will allow the program to immediately expand from the current level of 1,700 meals per day to 3,000 by this summer and 4,000 by the end of 2011. The ultimate goal is to reach 8,000 to 10,000 meals by 2013, with the introduction of hot meals for the first time.

Currently, about 40 volunteers prepare the sandwiches, fruits and vegetables for the daily Kids Cafe meals. But more volunteers are now needed to keep up with expansion and to perform site-checks for future program sites. Anyone interested in volunteering should call Grace Rodil at (602) 343-5629 or Melissa Jensen at (602) 647-1820.

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Filed under Events, Food Banking, Volunteer, Westside

Kids Cafe in Surprise calls for Volunteers with Grand Opening Approaching on April 7th

Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 1:45 pm

By NORA AVERY-PAGE, DAILY NEWS-SUN | 0 comments

Volunteers from the Sun Cities who devote time to the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in Surprise don’t want Arizona children to go to bed hungry.

They see the faces of hunger while others just see statistics:

• One in four children in the state are living in poverty, amounting to more than 260,000 children in Maricopa Country alone.

• In Surprise, nearly 24 percent of households fall at or below the poverty level.

• Arizona ranks dead last in an America’s Health Ranking study with the greatest number of children in poverty.

The St. Mary’s Kids Cafe program is working toward changing those numbers by offering daily meals to impoverished children.

“Child hunger is getting worse,” said Laura Brill, the Kids Cafe manager, calling these statistics “disturbing and unacceptable.”

The program feeds about 1,700 school-age children at 32 different locations every day, but with a new building expansion, Brill hopes to expand that number to 3,000 over the summer and 4,000 by the end of the year.

The program will be moving next week to a renovated former storage space in the westside location of St. Mary’s, so volunteers and staff can pack, store and assemble the meals, which include sandwiches and fruit and vegetables, all in one place.

The volunteers appreciate the commitment to the westside location, said Jan Wells, who helps coordinate the volunteers.

“Everybody is very excited,” she said.

Wells hopes to expand the menu offered. Right now, volunteers make up ham sandwiches, beef and ranch wraps or other varieties of sandwiches.

“Our goal is to provide that nutritional meal,” she said.

Brill said children living in poverty don’t eat well because it’s usually the highly processed foods lacking in significant nutritional value that are the cheapest to buy and that leads not only to poorer general health, but fatigue, hospitalizations, behavioral difficulties and impaired performance in school.

Brill said the goal of the program, which exists on a combination of donations and government funding, is to give children consistent daily nutrition, and it’s about giving them both quantity and quality food.

“This is the future of Arizona, and we feel like we need to invest now,” Brill said.

It’s important to sustain that nutrition during the summer, and more difficult to do because the children aren’t in school, she said.

“We want to kind of keep them steady,” Brill said. “We want the kids to be ready for when school starts back up.”

The goal is to expand the Kids Cafe program to make 8,000 meals a day, but that’s a few years down the road, she said.

And for both the current and future expansion, the food bank needs new volunteers; both Brill and Wells emphasized their appreciation for the volunteers and the support of the Sun Cities and Surprise communities.

But it takes a lot of work, Brill said, stressing the need for volunteers looking for a more in-depth project who can adopt a Kids Cafe site to set up and track the program.

“We want to make sure we’re very mindful in our planning,” Brill said, explaining she doesn’t want to have to say to the children at the sites: “Sorry, we messed up, we’re not going to feed you anymore.”

If the program doesn’t get enough volunteers to visit sites, it can’t have as many locations and won’t be able to feed as many kids, Brill said.

The Kids Cafe program is also looking for potential new locations for the meal sites, which can be any place children have access to, from a church, playground or pool, or an apartment complex.

Volunteers interested in doing site visits can call Grace Rodil at 602-343-5629 or email her at mgrodil@firstfoodbank.org.

For volunteers looking to help prepare meals or do other work for St. Mary’s Westside location, call Jan Wells at 602-343-5637 or reach her by email at jkwells@firstfoodbank.org.

Different sites looking to participate can call Melissa Jensen at 602-647-1820

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Filed under donations, Events, Food Banking, Volunteer, Westside

St. Mary’s volunteer, 96, takes bite out of hunger

September 27, 2009 5:04 PM
Erin Turner
Daily News-Sun

Art Molay wakes up every day the same as he always has.

On Tuesday and Thursday he prepares for the day, gets in his car and heads over to the St. Mary’s Food Bank in Surprise, where he volunteers for three hour shifts, packing food boxes for the hungry and making meals for underfed children.

The Sun Citian has repeated the same routine for the last five years and joins hundreds of other volunteers whose dedication ensures the food bank meets the demand.

What makes Molay extraordinary, however, is the birthday he celebrated last Tuesday — number 96.

Molay is the oldest volunteer at St. Mary’s, and as it turns out, one of its most dependable.

Molay is part of a group of about 15 seniors from Temple Beth Shalom in Sun City, who volunteer each week at the food bank. Several of the members are in their 90s.

“They’re incredible. Not only are they mentors to the younger folks who come and volunteer with us they carry a living heritage with them,” said Elizabeth Wunsch, volunteer services manager. “You know they’re going to be here. You can count on them. They have an incredible work ethic. They teach by what they do. We can’t keep up with them.”

“Everything they do with a great amount of pride and a great amount of love,” she added.

For Molay, volunteering at the food bank allows him to combine his desire to help the less fortunate and children, who he “just loves,” with ample free time in need of filling.

“When (my wife) passed away I was cornered. I had to have something to do. One of the members of our temple suggested that I try this, and I’m forever grateful to her for doing so because they’re wonderful people, they make me feel at home and it fills in my day for me,” he said. “I feel sorry for some of the people who come here, I really do. I feel I’m very fortunate in that respect. I like keeping busy and being able to help as much as possible. I enjoy it.”

Molay said his “donation of time” to the food bank is a simple way to give back to the community.

“You have to have some innovation of some sort, some stimulus to (volunteer),” he said. “The only compensation you get is knowing that you’re helping people. As long as I can drive, I’m all right. That has always been my worry — that I’m going to become too feeble to drive and then I’m stuck. But so far I’m able to keep up with it physically and mentally (and) I’m happy to help.”

Without the dedication and time from volunteers like Molay and his friends, the food bank wouldn’t be operational, especially when the need has grown so much in light of the economy, food bank officials said.

“Our hours our volunteers provide us give us over 150 full-time staff positions. There is no way in the world we could function without them,” Wunsch said. “And this year our numbers have gone up 120 percent … we got slammed and the (volunteers) kept up. Whatever you give them to do, they want more. They actually are competitive, too.”

And unlike other St. Mary’s locations around the Valley, the west side facility is largely dependent on senior volunteers like Molay.

“What’s great about the volunteer base we have here is their consistency. We know every Tuesday we can count on this group,” said Irma Leyendecker, director of volunteer services. “Whereas some of our other facilities (we’re unsure) what we’ll have each day, here we know we can count on these people. It’s a close-knit family.”

For Molay, his second career as a volunteer is just getting started. He said he feels, “as good as ever” and plans to continue “as long as he’s physically able.”

“I’m lucky to be able to keep active,” he said. “That, I’m thankful for. I don’t have any secret … except I chose the right parents. Good genes. There’s no secret to it — just luck.”

For information about volunteer services or donations, visit www.firstfoodbank.org or call 602-242-FOOD.

Erin Turner may be reached at 623-876-2522 or eturner@yourwestvalley.com.

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Drop Some Pounds…On the Scale & The Food Bank

STS Food Drive

scott_hmScott Keppel has found a way to ring  in the New Year and make your weight-loss resolutions fun. (More on weight-loss programs from St. Mary’s Food Bank….next week!) For now, check this out!

 Scott’s Training Systems is hosting a Food Drive to benefit the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. Donate to this worthy cause and receive your choice of a free 30-minute training session or consultation.

  • Where: Items can be donated at both STS studios located in Mesa & Tempe
  • When: Donations will be accepted through Feb. 15th.
  • Suggested Items: Peanut Butter, Tuna, Canned Vegetables/Fruit, Rice, Pasta, Beans. Any non-perishable items. No glass please.
Scott wants you to do something (anything) …to help out the community. Volunteer, donate, learn and be informed because if you’re in our house right now and have food in your fridge, you are more fortunate than 80% of rest of the world (80% of the world lives in extreme poverty).Many of us are very lucky to have been born into a situation that gave us a head start (shelter, food, education, etc.) There are a lot of good people out there that need a hand to get back to living with an elevated Quality of Life. Please take this opportunity to not only help those less fortunate with your donation, but also take advantage of your FREE workout and make a difference in your own life. 
  St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, the world’s first food bank, is a non-sectarian, nonprofit organization that alleviates hunger by efficiently gathering and distributing food to sites that serve the hungry. Serving 13 of Arizona’s 15 counties, the organization is committed to volunteerism, building community relationships and improving the quality of life for Arizonans in need. 
What is a Food Bank Volunteer? Volunteers give generously of their time, raising awareness of the realities of hunger and poverty. Volunteers are essential to Food Bank operations, supporting the organization in sorting, boxing and bagging food, as well as providing administrative and fundraising support.
Want to learn more about volunteering? Contact volunteerservices@firstfoodbank.org or (602) 343-3128.

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Art for all Generational Hearts!

elizab1brought to you by Elizabeth Wunsch, Volunteerwoman

A beautiful night for an auction. A spanning of generations. A gift for old and young. Art from the Heart!

The Madison Retirement Community in Sun City West wanted to help children in need. Hungry children. How does one do that in an exciting way? What organization has a program to feed hungry children? St. Mary’s Food Bank Kid’s Cafe Program was there answer. The program provides after school meals to children across the Valley who are in need. The meals are prepared each day by senior volunteers at St. Mary’s Food Alliance’s Westside facility.

Older generation extending their hearts to the youngest.


How could one help Kid’s cafe and get the message of “Heart” across? The Madison decided to hold an auction.


An auction of artwork provided by the children who are receiving Kid’s Cafe meals. The artwork depicts their hopes and dreams of the future.

pretty-ladiesMy heart was taken when I felt the joy of one of the seniors when she purchased on of the pictures. Carolyn, a vibrant soul, was ecstatic because she had won the bid on a picture of a veterinary hospital that one young girl had created. Carolyn’s daughter owns five veterinary clinics in New York City and will be receiving this picture as a gift from Carolyn. Hope and joy for three generations! Many fine pieces of hope from aspiring children helped raise money for the Kid’s Cafe Program!


A special shout out to The Madison for an inspiring idea, especially Crystal McRae, the sales/marketing director who helped coordinate the event and Jim and Brigitta Augustine, Managers of The Madison who hosted the unique benefit. Thank you to Peter Piper Pizza who donated pizza prize packs for the students. Kid’s Cafe Queens Laura Brill and Jessica Herrera coordinated the art projects from all the different sites. Hats off to VP of Development Jack Marks and his wife Lois attended and spoke at the event and Business Development Officer Christina Calio championed this event with her enthusiasm to spread the word and get the community rallied behind local businesses for St. Mary’s Food Bank.

How can helping others inspire you? What can you do to bring the generations together and help others in need? The ideas are endless and putting them in action is a community effort worth the sweat equity. If you have an idea you want to put into action, contact us today.


Elizabeth Wunsch, Volunteer (Super) Woman

elwunsch@firstfoodbank.org

 

p.s. For more information on Kid’s Cafe, click this link.

 

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Filed under Events, Local Business, Personal Experience, Volunteer

Our Volunteers Rock!!!

brought to you by Kara Ritter, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance Communication Specialist
Photos by Imagyst Photography
_________________________________________
The Rock & Box Event last night at St. Mary’s Food Bank was a roaring success thanks to volunteers from across the Valley. In two hours, about 75 volunteers were able to produce 1,680 bonus boxes and bagged 5,246 pounds of produce!
Several groups (Wells Fargo, Chase and other church groups) helped create the boxes our 700 agencies that help those who need it most during the holiday season. THANK YOU to our VOLUNTEERS, 98.7 THE PEAK, BOBBY-Qs and ROCKY the ROADRUNNER from the Phoenix Roadrunners.
_________________________________________
Mark Your Calendars:
The next Rock & Box will be October 28. If you are interested, call us at (602) 242-FOOD!
_________________________________________

 

The Fine Folks at Chase

The Fine Folks at Chase

Rock & Box Team Action

Rock & Box Team Action

 

Food Resourcing Queen Hortencia Garcia & Rocky the Roadrunner

Food Resourcing Queen Hortencia Garcia & Rocky the Roadrunner

 

Who Says Its Just Girls Who Wanna Have Fun?

Who Says Its Just Girls Who Wanna Have Fun?

No Job Too Small...

No Job Too Small...

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Filed under Events, Local Business, Volunteer

How may we help you?

Brought to you by: Elizabeth.  The Volunteerwoman.         

A woman walks into the reception area. She is nicely dressed. She approaches hesitantly. In her hand is a white referral form received from a nearby agency. The volunteer at the front counter asks, “How may we help you?”  The woman breaks down in tears. The volunteer gently guides her to a seat and begins to talk to and comfort her. In the meantime, another volunteer processes the referral form and brings it to the pantry. As the woman calms down, a cart full of food (an emergency food box) is wheeled through the door by a third volunteer.

The woman, who has lost her job and her house, thanks the people who helped her. As she wheels the cart through the door, a couple with two small children walk up to the counter and a new episode begins.  

These volunteers responded to a call to service. Today, in the USA, there is a renewed call to service. This service will look different to each individual who chooses to answer. And no matter how grand or minute the appearance of this service, it will always have an impact. Below is a portion of a letter written to the volunteers at the Food Bank’s Westside location 

You astounded me with your compassion and generosity

              on the day I came in to ask for food. Never have I been in

              a situation, so poor that I needed help. I have been humbled

             and I am so thankful that you treated me with dignity

             and concern.

The world is calling! How will you answer?

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Filed under Personal Experience, Volunteer, Westside