How One Leader Became a Lifelong Volunteer
3.27.17 – This month’s Volunteer of the Month, Jorge, started with Food Forward in January 2015 and has become one of our Ventura County Branch’s most stalwart leaders. In the past month alone, Jorge has led harvests, Farmers Market Gleans, and community outreach events. She was instrumental in helping us launch our gleaning program at the Thousand Oaks Farmers Market, leading multiple gleans a month and going above and beyond to fill in for other gleaners. Every time we see Jorge, she has a smile on her face; she is reliable, even-tempered, kind, and super supportive of Food Forward. We are very blessed to have her on our team.
How would you describe the volunteer experience at the market?
Volunteering at the markets for me is calming in my hectic life. From meeting the new volunteers, dropping the boxes off, and talking to the vendors, we know that when the market is over, we will have collected pounds and pounds of fresh produce to hand over to our Receiving Agencies. Everyone out there has the same goal: let’s help each other. And, it’s done with smiles and thank yous.
So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?
I went to a welcome lunch at the North Hollywood Office with my friend Lisa Ann. I was introduced to the gang and was taken on an office tour. Hearing from Rick about how he started Food Forward was really inspiring to me. The staff is so passionate about the organization, and what they do in the community and for those in need. It was at that time that I learned about Food Forward, and I was hooked from that moment on.
My first volunteer day was about 3 years ago. I had signed up for a pick with my friend. It was a beautiful day and we were helping feed the hungry. At that point, I knew I’d be a lifer volunteering with Food Forward.
“At that point, I knew I’d be a lifer volunteering with Food Forward.”
What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?
There are so many “favorite” parts of Food Forward for me when I’m volunteering. I enjoy being outside, meeting the new volunteers, and knowing that the work we are doing is really helping people directly in our community. I feel like I’m part of the solution to feed the hungry.
Just recently I went to an event at the Ventura office. I ran into one of the volunteers that started with me at the Ventura market. He remembered me and asked how I was doing after my surgery. I learned that he has become a regular volunteer. That moment, I felt like I’m making a difference, inspiring other volunteers to get more involved with Food Forward.
What have you learned from volunteering?
I have learned that it doesn’t matter how busy I am, it’s always important to give back and help those less fortunate. It’s extremely rewarding and gives me peace of mind.
What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
When I’m not volunteering or working my 2 jobs, I tend to my garden, read, and spend time with my husband walking our dog Zucca. We also like to travel: our local favorite is Morro Bay, and our international favorite is Italy.
Any words of wisdom you live by?
Life is hectic, life is short, follow your passion and always remember if you have dark days, there is always someone less fortunate that you. So, volunteer, get outside and make a difference in your community.