What is your role at Feeding America West Michigan?
I am the reclamation coordinator. My role is to ensure food safety while monitoring volunteers doing different repacking tasks. I process product and train volunteers while also maintaining a fun, happy, and engaging atmosphere.
What led you to your current role?
When I first started at the food bank three years ago, I was doing janitorial work part-time. I soon found myself assisting in the reclamation department when they were short-handed. I began meeting volunteers and the warehouse staff and I got a feel for what draws them to the mission. The hard work and dedication of the volunteers is so endearing and inspirational to watch. I fell in love with the department and as soon as a position opened up, I immediately applied.
Can you explain what “reclamation” is?
Reclamation is essentially the “Band-Aid department.” Volunteers in my department reclaim and repack donated food to be redistributed to the community. We repack everything from dry cereal to fresh produce and even frozen meat and vegetables.
What was your first experience with hunger in our community?
I volunteered at a Mobile Food Pantry — handing out food to families in need. The experience helped me understand who our demographic is and that people of all ages and walks of life need help.
Can you tell us about the most impactful thing you’ve experienced while on the job?
One afternoon, a mother and her seven children walked in the front door. She had just lost her job and, although she had acquired a new one, she still had to wait two weeks for a paycheck to come in. Her kids were hungry, their cupboards were bare, and she had spent their last dollar on gas to get there. My volunteers and I immediately sprang into action and made emergency food boxes for the family. I’ve had so many humbling experiences like that, but this one really hit home. I’m a single mom of a little boy and her courage to ask for help was inspiring.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Getting up every day and doing my part surrounded by my volunteer family. Knowing that people come into the building on their own free will to help keeps me encouraged every day.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy watching spooky movies with my friends, singing really really loud in the car, and building blanket forts with my five-year-old son. We try to have at least one adventure per day, whether that’s getting lost in our favorite book or finding the best stick to turn into a pirate sword right in our backyard.