Congratulations to our Super Volunteer Student Graduate!
6.26.17 – Congratulations to our Volunteer of the Month and recent graduate! McKayla has been an awesome Ventura County volunteer – leading picks and gleans with huge crews of Pepperdine student volunteers. McKayla always brings a smile to events and is memorable for her amazing positive energy that inspires every volunteer to do their best…as well as her vibrant clothing. McKayla came to us through the Pepperdine Volunteer Center where she worked as the Hunger and Homelessness Coordinator for over two years. McKayla has now graduated from Pepperdine with a degree in Religion, and she is is off to new adventures. We hope that if McKayla makes her way back to this region, she will join us as a leader again. We wish her the best in this next chapter of her life!
So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?
This past April, I graduated from Pepperdine University (woo hoo!). My junior year, I worked at the Pepperdine Volunteer Center as the Volunteer Coordinator for Hunger and Homelessness in Ventura County. I was assigned to work with 4 local non profits to coordinate and lead volunteer opportunities for students. Food Forward was 1 of my 4 organizations. I spoke on the phone with Jim and Ally and their enthusiasm for all things fresh motivated me to get more involved in the fight against food waste.
My first volunteer day was so much more enjoyable than I imagined it would be! It was filled with laughter and true connection with the other volunteers. Volunteering is chill, productive, and fun. I find that new volunteers are always surprised at how little work it takes on our part to prevent so many pounds of lovely food from being wasted.
I attended a Glean Team Leader training and just knew that I was going to become infinitely more invested in Food Forward. Sure enough, even when my position with the Pepperdine Volunteer Center ended, I continued to grow deeper in my involvement with Food Forward, training as a Backyard Pick Leader and Community Ambassador.
What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
It’s so simple: when you have an excess of something, you are to share it with people who do not. I love that Food Forward presents such a simple solution to the crazy-complex problem of poverty. I also love how humbling the work is. Our society loves instant gratification, but in volunteering with Food Forward, you rarely meet the folks who will be benefiting from the food you glean… and I’m all about combatting problematic societal norms. I also love the emphasis on building community and sharing, which runs quite counter to our society’s emphasis on the individual and celebration of taking and consuming.
I’ve learned the importance of being present with all people. Some of the most inspiring and alive conversations I’ve ever had have taken place under a kumquat tree or farmers market tent. Yes, we have a job to do: we have tons of fresh food to collect, but we are doing the job together in community. We mustn’t forgo community building for the sake of efficiency.
There was one moment when we were collecting the donations from a vendor at the market and as we were walking away, the vendor bestowed a huge, beautiful box of berries upon us. He said, “That way, everybody eats.” His generous and intentional spirit reminded the other volunteers and I of why we were doing what we were doing.
He said, “That way, everybody eats.” His generous and intentional spirit reminded me and the other volunteers of why we were doing what we were doing.
What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?
All the wonderfully diverse people I get to meet! I’ve befriended everyone from an art therapist to a maintenance manager. It’s so cool hearing people’s different reasons for volunteering. Getting to know such wonderful volunteers inspires me to strive to do even more good in this life.
What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
I absolutely love live music and frequent local music venues and house shows. I also love a good ocean swim or thrift store visit, and am an avid tea-drinker and veggie-eater.
Any words of wisdom you live by?
James 2: 14-17: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”