An Opportunity to Make a Difference

An Opportunity to Make a Difference

July 6, 2023 in Volunteer Spotlight

“Something has to be a catalyst in life for change. We have control to make that step of change,” says Teresa Fairbanks. For Teresa, a DUI was the catalyst that brought her to volunteer at Ozarks Food Harvest, but it did so much more than that. It reignited her passion to make a difference in her community and home.

Although Teresa owed 55 hours of community service for her DUI, she knew this was more than just an obligation – this was an opportunity to make a difference. “I really did research. I didn’t want to do it half-heartedly,” she shares.

Teresa chose Ozarks Food Harvest because she’s seen our impact on the community first-hand. Before schools transitioned to remote learning in the COVID-19 pandemic, Teresa was a school bus driver. She remembers seeing kids take home food from Ozarks Food Harvest’s Weekend Backpack Program. “This program is vitally important. The last thing a child needs to worry about is something to eat,” says Teresa, “and here I am all this time later, packing those bags. I’m still playing a part in their life to help them.”

Since her start in February, Teresa has surpassed her mandated 55 hours. In fact, she’s now logged 70 hours of volunteering with Ozarks Food Harvest and found a love for the cause. “I get to be a part of the difference here. It’s empowering. That’s why I keep coming back.”

Teresa says she stumbled when her life wheel got out of balance, but now she’s finding balance through helping others who are facing their own hard times. As a mother, grandmother and leader at her martial arts dojo, Teresa has daily opportunities to impact others. She has learned through martial arts the importance of “state management” – regulating emotions by changing what you focus on, what you say and how you move. The DUI prompted Teresa to be honest with herself and take responsibility for her actions. Now, she practices state management by focusing on lifting up others.

“If you give of yourself, just watch what starts happening,” she says. “Had I known what all Ozarks Food Harvest does for the community, I would have been here a long time ago.”

If you want to learn more about Ozarks Food Harvest and how you can help Transform Hunger into Hope, visit