Using Her Time, Talent and Treasures to Make an Impact

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May 1, 2019 By: Tina Mortimer Category: Hunger Stories

This year marks the 16th anniversary of our signature fundraising gala, Dish: Cuisine for Change. Since 2003, this important event has been bringing the community together to raise funds and awareness to help end hunger in our local communities.  

Each year brings new chefs, new auction items and new ways to celebrate and share the abundance our region is famous for. It’s a magical event — but it wouldn’t exist without our volunteers.

Last year, nearly 100 volunteers contributed 346 hours in 10 different roles. From setting up the venue to selling raffle tickets to checking in guests, according to Volunteer Coordinator Paige Stein, volunteers are the key to Dish’s success.  

“Volunteers bring so much enthusiasm to help us execute setup, restaurant support, guest registration, live and silent auctions and more,” she said. “They are a pleasure to work with, and everyone at Second Harvest Heartland is so grateful for their support.”

Raising her hand for 15 years

Patty Brunn has been a Second Harvest Heartland volunteer serving in a variety of capacities for more than 15 years. Yet the “job” she most looks forward to year after year, is selling raffle tickets at Dish. It’s a role that requires an outgoing and affable personality. Someone who is persistent without being pushy, engaging without being inauthentic. In other words, someone like Patty. The creative producer for Target and part-time benefit and fundraising auctioneer exudes charm and grace. But she doesn’t think she’s unique.  

“I’ve always believed everyone should make the most of the three Ts they’re given — time, talent and treasures,” she said. “We all have them, even if we don’t realize it.”

Patty credits her first time on a stage with building her confidence. 

“I’ve never been afraid to raise my hand,” Patty said. “Maybe that’s why I was drawn to sales and auctioneering—when people pull out their wallet for a good cause, it makes me smile. I’ve just always been comfortable doing it.”

If you didn’t know Patty, you might be somewhat surprised by her ever-joyful and positive demeanor. Just three years ago, she lost her 23-year-old son, Joe, to an accidental drowning. The loss might have been enough for even the most dedicated volunteer to lose faith. But if you know Patty, you know she isn’t every volunteer.

“When you experience such a tremendous loss, it’s easy to stumble into the dark side,” she admitted. “But at the end of the day, I know I’m going to see my Joe again. I need to continue to help the living and stay on the path I’m meant to be on.”

Patty, who has the support of her two adult daughters and husband, Randy, has always been a “workaholic mom,” (her words), going from her day job at Target to auctioneering and volunteer commitments on nights and weekends. She must always have a job to do. After her son’s passing, volunteering helped her get back to a place of normalcy in her life.

“People asked why I kept going, but volunteering is normal to me,” she said. “After what happened, I needed things to be as normal as possible.”

Patty grew up eating food from her local food shelf in Brooklyn Center.

“If you look at me now, you’d never know my family used a food shelf,” she said. “When you get to Dish and you see how many people support Second Harvest Heartland, support people like my parents, it’s a humbling experience. I’m always grateful, and it keeps me coming back.”

Get Involved

Put your time, talent and treasures to good use! Volunteer opportunities are still available for Dish: Cuisine for Change. Sign up today.

Dish features gourmet cuisine from local chefs, wine and cocktail tastings, hundreds of auction items and the opportunity to mix and mingle before the program begins. The evening closes with a featured performance by comedian Kathleen Madigan.

Learn more about Dish: Cuisine for Change and how you can participate.




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