Jenifer Dymek, Class 26
Executive Analyst, SRP
My normal day: wake up, get ready for work, get my daughter ready for school, remind my husband where he left his keys (and sunglasses), drop off my daughter, go to work, anticipate what today is going to take to keep everything running smoothly, leave work, pick up my daughter, make dinner, bike ride?, do dishes (and any other household chores), bath time, pajamas, story time, bedtime, collapse on the couch and breathe. As you can tell, I am busy. I am so busy that there is no way I could ever find time to volunteer. At least that’s what I told myself.
But then an amazing thing happened. I made time. I made time to volunteer at the Food Bank at Vista del Camino. Vista’s mission is to provide a variety of social services to residents of Scottsdale. This includes services to prevent homelessness, meet the basic needs of individuals or families in crisis, relieve economic and emotional stress and assist individuals so they can remain self-sufficient.
I learned that the Food Bank is staffed almost totally by volunteers. Men and woman who consistently give their time to make sure that someone is there to receive donations and to sort through each item and prepare boxes and bags to be distributed to those who need it. The ladies I worked with show up every week, many for years, to ensure that the Food Bank continues to run and provide the needed services. They work one or a couple days a week for two to four hours, whatever time they have available. They do it because they want to help, and they do a great job. The pantry was perfectly organized by food with lists placed strategically to remind each person what goes in a box or a bag, and a tracking system for how many boxes are created. Once all the sorting and boxing was completed, we even dusted the tops of the cans!
I shared with my co-volunteers that until I went through Scottsdale Leadership, I had no idea that Scottsdale had a food bank. Or that I’d ridden my bike past it a million times while utilizing the greenbelt bike paths. I was surprised (and somewhat pacified) to know that until many of them started to volunteer, they weren’t aware of Vista’s existence either. Vista del Camino does a fantastic job, and their volunteers are amazing. But how much greater could it be if leaders used their connections and leadership skills within the community to let others know that it exists? They could also focus on ensuring consistent food streams. How many other food bank collection boxes do we see throughout Scottsdale? What if even a portion of those donations were directed towards Vista del Camino?
Community leaders can do a lot of good. They can lead, fundraise and spread the word about organizations like Vista. But sometimes, one of the best things they can do is to make time to volunteer. Meet people bringing bags at the door; thank them for their donation, sort and place items in boxes for those who need it. And yes, even dust cans.