In honor of National Volunteer Week (April 19-25) Gleaners is celebrating a few of our most dedicated volunteers. Read their stories below and learn about the many ways volunteers help serve our hungry neighbors.
Please Note: Gleaners is suspending a majority of volunteer shifts through June 15, 2020. This precautionary decision comes as we follow updates from local and state governments and adhere to social distancing guidelines from the CDC during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you for your support! Stay connected and receive updates on future volunteer needs at Gleaners here.
John Cruitt – My Neighborhood Mobile Grocery Volunteer
2019 Points of Pride: 313
John is one of Gleaners’ most ardent volunteers. Out of Gleaners’ tens of thousands of volunteers, John is ranked eighth in volunteer hours. In 2019, John spend 313 hours helping Gleaners feed our community.
John has been volunteering at Gleaners for two and a half years. He assists as a cashier with My Neighborhood Mobile Grocery (MNMG), a weekly pop-up market that provides veterans and senior citizens who have low access to affordable, healthy foods. John became involved at the request of Denise Leduc, Gleaners’ Director of Community Engagement, who he knows through church. “When I retired from my work at GM, I wanted to get more involved with Gleaners. I can’t do the physical jobs at the warehouse, so I asked Denise if there was anything else I could do. She pointed me in the direction of My Neighborhood Mobile Grocery.”
After his first shift at MNMG, Gleaners told him that we needed him back on a weekly basis. Today, John works four sites per week. He has seen the program grow in number of sites and patrons. Today, MNMG serves more than 3,000 seniors 16 sites across the Detroit Metro area.
John’s family jokes about how committed he is as a Gleaners volunteer. When taking a family trip to Florida, he mentioned that he wanted to let Gleaners know that he would be taking some time off. They asked, “How many days a year do they give you off work?”
Sara Tatchio – My Neighborhood Mobile Grocery Volunteer
2019 Points of Pride: 152.5
Sara has been volunteering as a cashier with MNMG for a little over a year now. Her husband worked at Fox 2, which is how she was first connected with Gleaners. When she retired from Ford, MNMG was a great way for her to give back and interact with the community.
Her favorite thing about volunteering is interacting with its customers. “Everybody is so grateful, fun, and kind.” And customers feel the same way about her. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Sara was on vacation and spent a few days away from her weekly MNMG sites. Upon her return, customers specifically chose to wait in her line in order to catch up and chat. They say she is always missed when she’s away from volunteering.
Sara discussed what it is like to be on the front lines of the COVID crisis at MNMG. People are utilizing the program now more than ever, and there have been changes made to keep seniors safe. Even though sites run hours over schedule to accommodate every order, Sara happily volunteers through it all: “This is the thing that is keeping me connected in this situation.” She says volunteering gives her a purpose and makes her feel not so helpless. On seeing how many more people are using the service, Sara said “it’s what we’re here for.”
* MNMG has seen its highest numbers ever through this crisis. During the week of April 17, Gleaners saw record participation for the program in terms of transactions, despite 11 out of 18 sites are operational. This fact goes to show how valuable and important this program is to an incredibly vulnerable population at this time: seniors.
Mary St. Pierre – Shared Harvest Volunteer
2019 Points of Pride: 509
Mary has been volunteering at Shared Harvest since 2015 and is ranked number two in volunteer hours! She initially became involved through Rotary Club but adored helping people so much that she kept coming back. Today, she volunteers three days a week, and is usually on freezer duty (lots of volunteers don’t like to work in the freezer, but she says she doesn’t mind it at all!).
“People tell me their stories. We hug each other and cry. And that warms my heart.”
Mary is an RN and took it upon herself to give a dozen other volunteers and staff at Shared Harvest CPR and AED training. She is a major asset on our volunteer team!
Danielle Donovan – Shared Harvest Volunteer
Danielle began volunteering at Shared Harvest months ago when she was looking for something to do and a way to give back. A colleague at the Special Olympics recommended that she volunteer at Shared Harvest. She started out folding bags but has been an instrumental help in COVID relief efforts, coming in frequently throughout the crisis. She has been packing food bags for families who are doing trunk pickups at Shared Harvest.
Rob Van – Shared Harvest Volunteer
Rob Van has been volunteering at Shared Harvest for two years. When he worked at Art Van, he would help drop off food donations to Shared Harvest and became a volunteer shortly after that. Rob says the best thing about volunteering at Shared Harvest right now is loading the cars of clients. “People are so grateful for us right now. The sheer volume of people who cry of relief and gratitude is really impactful.”
Gleaners is suspending a majority of volunteer shifts through June 15, 2020. This precautionary decision comes as we follow updates from local and state governments and adhere to social distancing guidelines from the CDC. Thank you for your support! Stay connected and receive updates on future volunteer needs at Gleaners here.