Volunteer Spotlight of the Month: Rich Ryan
In April 2011, the first day Rich Ryan retired, he started volunteering at Second Harvest Heartland.
“I’ve been very fortunate. I had a good steady job and I’ve been healthy, so I’m able to volunteer 7 to 10 hours a week,” he said.
Now, in addition to sorting bread to distribute to local food shelves twice a week, Rich also serves as a phone volunteer helping low-income seniors register for the Commodity and Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). CSFP provides seniors with a monthly box of wholesome, shelf-stable foods.
“With CSFP, you see food insecurity from the ground floor. Many of us talk about hunger, but we’re looking at it from 30,000 feet,” Rich said.
Rich’s conversations with seniors have been eye-opening, demonstrating that the people who are hungry are not who you may expect.
Many of the seniors Rich speaks with are disabled, or are caring for a loved one with a disability. While many of us might think of hunger as an urban problem, Rich says that many of the seniors he helps live in small towns where the economy is still struggling.
“I know we think, ‘People who live out there in the heart of agriculture, why should they be hungry?’ But some of them are hungry. They’re living on fixed incomes and they need help getting food,” Rich said.
Knowing that his time is making a difference in people’s lives is the most satisfying thing about volunteering, Rich says.
“People really appreciate the help and food we’re able to give them,” he said. “I like it because when I walk out of here each time, I know what I’ve accomplished.”
If you'd like to volunteer, visit 2harvest.org/volunteer for opportunities.