A Letter from Chip – Every Volunteer Makes a Difference!
According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, volunteering declined 7% in the U.S. from 2011 to 2015. In 2011 we had 1,720 volunteers at America’s Grow-a-Row; last year nearly 9,000 people of all ages volunteered in all areas of our program! Fortunately we have not experienced the same decline as the national trend. Approximately 25% of all Americans invest their free time in volunteering and helping others through various nonprofit organizations across the country, and the most popular activities are preparing, distributing, and serving food to those in need. At America’s Grow-a-Row, sometimes those who help out when we need it the most don’t make our official volunteer list, but they are greatly appreciated just the same as those who formally sign up to work in the fields, make weekly deliveries, or assist in the classrooms. For example, just a few weeks ago at one of the Healthy Eating Lessons we taught at the East Orange YMCA a young boy spontaneously volunteered a few minutes of his time behind the scenes.
When Julie Rusin, our Director of Programming, and Connie Miller, our Volunteer and Programming Associate, arrived at the YMCA, there was a boy who was probably in 5th or 6th grade hanging out by the check-in counter. He saw Julie and Connie carrying in all of their supplies and asked if they needed help. Though thankful for the timely offer, Julie and Connie told him that he didn’t have to help but he could if he wanted to. Eagerly he helped them carry the heavy load and make every trip up the long and steep stairs. They chatted along the way, and Julie and Connie asked him his name and what he was learning in school. The boy was equally interested in them and asked what all the produce was for and seemed to like the idea of the Healthy Eating Lessons. After a couple of trips he was getting a bit tired, and they thanked him and said that he certainly helped more than enough and could go. Then he said, “No, I can finish helping out.” And he did.
Though the boy was not actively part of the Healthy Eating Lesson that afternoon, he did play an important role in helping our team by volunteering his services. And he was eager to do so. This reminded us all that any amount of help to America’s Grow-a-Row and our mission is certainly worth mentioning, because every act of support, whether it is helping make several trips up and down the stairs with heavy supplies or lending one’s time to help plant, harvest, and distribute produce or making a financial contribution, plays a critical role in helping those who are faced with food insecurity and are in need.
So, in what way, no matter large or small, might you be able to help in order to change the lives of the people America’s Grow-a-Row serves this year? We look forward to hearing from you and finding out this season!
Thank you in advance for all of your support and for the many sacrifices that help make America’s Grow-a-Row what it is – impactful because of your giving ways.
See you in the fields!
President & Founder