All in this together
June’s Volunteer of the Month is Ventura’s own David Lawless! David is not only a Community Ambassador who helps us spread the word about Food Forward at events across Ventura County, he also volunteers regularly at fruit picks. At a recent grapefruit harvest in Somis, David went above and beyond and offered to help count boxes and wrap the pallet of boxes in our Food Forward van. This is a challenging task and not easy to do by oneself, so we really appreciated his help and willingness to jump in. Thanks, David!
David poses with a box of fruit at our recent Fruit Drive with Betty Belts.
So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?
I was looking for volunteer opportunities and saw that one of the food banks had listed Food Forward as a partner, so I checked it out.
What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
Feeding the hungry with nutritious food hits all the right notes to me. When I became a vegetarian years ago, I did so after learning about how whole, plant-based foods are so good for health and wellness. So what better way to help those that lack sufficient food than providing them the best food there is?
Also for avoiding food waste–I remember being in NYC eating at a restaurant in Little Italy years ago, and seeing a European couple making sure to eat every crumb on their plate, and I thought: “Wow, they must appreciate food more over there than we as Americans do.” Now, Food Forward’s awareness on the topic, and just coming to the point of having gratitude for the plants that created this food and the people that raise them, has me trying to avoid wasting food as much as possible.
What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
I am the Marketing Manager for EQ2–which does asset management software for hospitals. I get to use both the creative and analytical sides of my brain to lead all marketing functions including strategy, product marketing, market research, communications, and tactics.
I am also just finishing up my second term as Vice President of Collegiate Relations and Membership for Young Professionals at American Marketing Association Los Angeles. It has been great working with young people as they transition from college into the professional world!
I also love hiking, kayaking, traveling, and just being outside.
David, pictured third from left in the baseball cap, at a big Meyer Lemon harvest in Santa Rosa Valley.
What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?
In addition to what I mentioned above, I really like seeing how food grows and the beautiful properties that we often pick from. Also, the people–staff, other volunteers, and receiving agencies—are always friendly. You get to be outdoors and it’s just a fun way to spend two hours!
How would you describe the volunteer experience at a tabling event?
At a tabling event, so many people know us or have heard about what we do and they always say great things about what we are doing. That positive energy makes it easy to connect and makes the experience enjoyable.
What was your first volunteer day like?
We picked persimmons in Moorpark. Ally Gialketsis was leading the pick and was very welcoming and made everything easy. I met others who were also first-timers and some that had done it several times before. The pick was fun and I thought–“I need to do this often!”
What have you learned from volunteering?
How many people really care about others. That isn’t generally what gets reported in the media, but it is absolutely the case.
Is there a particularly powerful volunteering moment you’d like to share?
Sometimes when the pick is over and the receiving agency has arrived to pick up the fruit donation, their representative will talk to us as a group and tell us about the people that the food is going to help. This can be very powerful because you hear about how the food is making a difference for individuals and for families that have found themselves in challenging circumstances. These are fellow members of our community and so you realize we are all in this together.
Any words of wisdom you live by?
No particular words or sayings; I am just always focused on growing and finding balance in life.