Thank you to Brandon Hawkins (and wife Vesna), Karen Caston, Susan Portillos and Louie Reininger for their time volunteering at Metro Caring for White and Steele in February. Some of the volunteers worked in the marketplace while Brandon and his wife were in the warehouse sorting canned goods - they got through two huge bins of food! The food needs to be sorted in order to make it to the marketplace for people to go home with it, and is a vital part of Metro Caring's system.
The bags pictured on the left were decorated and donated for Metro Caring's clients. Some of the participants are carrying all their groceries home while walking or riding on the bus, and these adorable bags were amazing for them!
“After we arrived, we were provided a tour of the Metro Caring facility by one of the volunteer coordinators. We learned about the basic services they offer, walked through the market to view the selections, and met some of the staff members. While we were first-timers, it was really helpful to gain insight on the bigger picture of the organization beyond the mere provision of food to those in need. We learned that the ultimate goal was to teach self-sufficiency and independence by educating the customers on nutritious food choices and the benefits of healthy living. I also found it interesting that those visiting had the freedom of choice in their shopping experience, as opposed to merely receiving a pre-packaged selection. The staff even offered cooking demonstrations and information on meal options utilizing only goods from the market. All these aspects combined to demonstrate and promote Metro Caring’s values of self-sufficiency, individual dignity, and mutual respect.
We spent our time in the warehouse sorting non-perishables into bins by category for warehouse storage. Five of us managed to get through two huge bins, and the staff will use those to stock the shelves for the next customers. All in all, while it was a long day, it ended on a true high note. We sometimes get caught up in our own lives and trifles, and forget that those obstacles are minimal when compared to the struggle of meeting one’s basic needs. Working with Metro Caring was a great experience – the staff was motivated and caring, and the other volunteers carried the same attitude. I would highly recommend volunteering for this organization.” -Brandon Hawkins
"I spoke with one of the participants who said, "Susan, I saw you here two weeks ago." I was surprised as participants are eligible once a month. I thought maybe he shopped with a friend. He was all excited to tell me that he went to one of the financial programs they offer at Metro Caring to learn how to better handle his finances, and because of that he was allowed an extra shopping trip this month. I can’t tell you how excited he was to be able to do this. He had the biggest smile on his face all night and was having a great time getting his groceries!" -Susan Portillos
A new program at Metro Caring has one of the nutritionists go through the marketplace before the shoppers come in - she chooses items available right then, and prepares something for the participants to snack on while they wait and also to give them ideas on how to prepare healthy food. On February's W&S volunteering night she sautéed fresh broccoli with a little onion and raisins. The participants enjoyed a snack while they waited while learning about nutrition.