Volunteers Find the Perfect Fit at Ozarks Food Harvest
A year ago, Susan Johnson and her adult son Ben were searching for a place to volunteer. They were looking for an organization where Ben, who has autism, could get involved with helping the community, but they hadn’t quite found that right fit – until they came to Ozarks Food Harvest.
Now, Ben volunteers at Ozarks Food Harvest two to three times each week accompanied by Susan or one of his two support staff, Emerald and Maria. Emerald and Maria assist Ben with daily activities, outings and his hobbies like puzzles and crafts. They’ve enjoyed supporting Ben’s affinity for task-oriented activities – a perfect skillset for sorting and packing food at Ozarks Food Harvest.
“The staff at Ozarks Food Harvest have been very accommodating as they’ve gotten to learn about Ben and where he can contribute,” explains Susan. “And where he contributes is his strength. He carries the boxes for us. He enjoys working alongside people and seeing the completion of a task.”
Ben’s interests and Ozarks Food Harvest’s volunteer sessions have become a perfect fit for each other over the course of his team’s time at The Food Bank. Ben and his team have become a regular part of the volunteer community, developing friendships with staff and volunteers who know them by name. Susan says those relationships have resulted in some powerful moments while volunteering. She shares, “There was a kind of transition when we were just volunteers and showing up. Then, all of the sudden people were knowing Ben’s name and asking him to assist with things and including him. It was very heartwarming.”
Maria agrees, adding, “As a support staff for Ben, I feel like volunteering is helping him, and that also feels like we’ve accomplished something.”
Food Bank staff look forward to seeing Ben and his crew several times a week, and we’re so glad that Ozarks Food Harvest has become their perfect fit. Their time at The Food Bank has provided meals for thousands of our neighbors facing hunger and proves that volunteering strengthens the community.
As Emerald summarizes, “I think volunteering is what makes community. It’s something that should be innate to the human experience. While you’re at Ozarks Food Harvest, you’re meeting people and you’re also getting people food. It’s really important.”
Thank you to Susan, Ben, Emerald and Maria for choosing to Transform Hunger into Hope with us. To find out if Ozarks Food Harvest is the right fit for you, learn more and sign up at ozarksfoodharvest.org/volunteer.