Volunteer Jerri Celebrates 10 Years, Thousands of Hours
April is National Volunteer Month, and Second Harvest Heartland looks forward to this dedicated time every year to appreciate everything our volunteers do for hungry families. Second Harvest Heartland volunteers are phenomenal and do so much for us, including giving enough time to equate 62 full-time employees. That’s more than a third of our workforce!
Throughout April we will be featuring a few of the 31,175 people who gave their time in 2017, and we’d like to kick off the month with Jerri.
Jerri has been part of the Second Harvest Heartland family for so long, she doesn’t even remember when she started. She settled on 10 or 11 years. Her recorded number of hours has reached more than 3,000, but, as Jerri said, “that’s just since 2012, when we started counting!”
While many Second Harvest Heartland volunteers sort and pack food in our warehouse, we have a growing number of volunteers who provide specialized talents for long-term projects or an ongoing basis. Jerri is behind the scenes, working on our volunteer management system and keeping track of all the numbers.
“It’s not real interesting work,” Jerri said, “but I know it relieves everyone from having to deal with that—Second Harvest Heartland can focus on getting volunteers where they need to be, signed up, so they don’t have to worry about these details.”
Jerri and her husband have been loyal and generous Second Harvest Heartland donors for almost two decades, and Jerri said she decided she wanted to give her time in addition to dollars. It’s because hunger has a weight, and we have a responsibility to end it. “I grew up on a farm,” Jerri said. “Food wasn’t an issue for us, but we didn’t have a lot. People don’t wear hunger. It’s a basic human need, and obviously it should not be unmet. It is an obligation of anyone who doesn’t have to worry about it to make sure nobody does. You help someone who needs help.”
With that in mind, Jerri believes the work Second Harvest Heartland does is driving to address the issue of hunger. “I LOVE the innovation,” Jerri said. “It’s feeding a need. Fresh produce has had me the most excited. It’s not just shelf-stabled foods that people are able to get. It’s the nutrition side of it. Good food is not just for people who can afford it.”
The way Jerri talks about hunger and everyone’s role to end it is inspiring—it’s a solvable problem, and people like Jerri give selflessly, partially due to her experience working with young kids.
“The first thing you think about is children—nutrition and the needs of children. I also work with an organization for preschool readiness. Nutrition is key for kids. Nobody can argue with that.”
Jerri’s kids are 24 and 26 now, on their own, but she still sees food as an important connection to them. “It’s an easy way to get my kids to visit me, if I make a meal for them. I can always entice them with a homemade meal.”
Thank you so much, Jerri, for a decade and thousands of hours of service. You are making an enormous difference every week for kids who’ve felt the stress of hunger from their parents.