Helping Hands: Volunteers
Second Harvest Community Food Bank is blessed to have hundreds of amazing volunteers. Sixteen year old Kristin Hall is one of those people. Hall is a very busy young woman. She volunteers, runs cross country and track, swims for the Pony Express Swim Team, and is currently working to earn the Congressional Award for Youth.
The Congressional Award for Youth is a non-partisan, voluntary, non-competitive award. Participants are required to set goals in four program areas; Volunteer Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration. Hall’s mother found out about the program through a home school magazine, and thought it would be a good idea for her daughter to get involved.
Hall has been working on the award since February 2008. She has to spread out her volunteer hours over 24 months to qualify. In order to receive the award, Hall must earn 400 hours of community service, 200 hours of physical fitness, spend three days in a venture activity, and document 200 hours of personal development. To help her satisfy the requirements she is volunteering at Second Harvest and the Calvin Center in St. Joseph, Missouri. She will submerge herself in the Amish culture in Iowa to complete her venture project. For personal development she is taking photography classes and is also a life guard. Running cross country and track will meet the requirement for physical fitness.
“I’ve been working on this project since my freshman year and I want to be done by my junior year so I can use it on college applications.” Hall said.
Hall has been a volunteer at Second Harvest since 2008. During that time she has taken on several different roles. Some of her responsibilities included stocking Harvest House, Second Harvest’s on-site food pantry, and handing out food. She also helped to pack lunches for the Backpack Buddies program. She has sorted the newsletter and worked in the office. Volunteering at Second Harvest has proved to be a good experience for Hall.
“I really enjoy it here. I like coming and helping.” Hall said. “I liked being in the pantry handing out food.”
Hall feels that volunteering and getting involved in the community is a good way to build responsibility and character.
“I think teens should be involved in their community.” Hall said. “It helps to build character and it helps teach them about responsibility.”
Dawna Reamy has seen both sides of Second Harvest, once as a client then as a photography intern.
Reamy and her husband moved to St. Joseph from Texas 13 years ago and were in a serious car accident that left them both injured. It took her husband two years to walk, and she wasn’t able to use her right hand for a year. So as a result they had to use the services of the Second Harvest to help get them through. In 2000, her house burnt down and the Second Harvest and Red Cross provided services to help them get by.
Even after going through all this Reamy is in the process of getting a degree in Art at Missouri Western State University. As a result she was able to come back to the Second Harvest to provide her photography experience as an intern. Some of the things she did included; taking pictures of the volunteers, going to the food banks to get people receiving food, and the Backpack Buddies program. When Reamy went to one of the senior centers in the Second Harvest service area to take some pictures she was able to talk to the residents about their history and that was something she liked the most.
“I enjoyed that the most,” Reamy said. “The older people were fun to talk to.”
After interning with the Second Harvest Reamy had enough experience to start a photography business called Dreamy Photography. Right now she is starting with daycares to get children during naptime. She will have a contract coming up in the spring to take pictures of about 80 kids at Mitchell Woods. In the future she plans to expand to family portraits.
Reamy is truly a success story, she proves that even through rough times you can still make it. She has started her own business, is working on a college degree, and is raising a family.
Benjamin Franklin said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for someone else.”
There are people in this world that have the ability to touch a person’s heart with nothing more than a warm smile and a kind word. No one fits that description better than Dean Starke, Sr. Starke started volunteering at Second Harvest Community Food Bank on November 11, 2008. “I started volunteering and the next thing I knew, they adopted me,” Starke says. Every month Starke helps prepare boxes of food for the Senior Care Program and every Tuesday and Friday he helps at Harvest House, Second Harvest’s perishable on-site food pantry. Volunteer Coordinator Donna Thompson says, “Dean has endless energy. We call him the adopted employee because he helps with anything and everything.”
Starke is willing to help wherever he is needed, but his true love is Harvest House. Starke’s generous spirit and friendly personality make him a perfect fit for the job. “I like handing-out food to people and hearing them say thank you. I like to see the smiles on their faces,” Starke says.
Starke is retired from Labors Local 579 of St. Joseph after being a skilled laborer for 22 years. He left the workforce after being severely injured on the job. He says, “I felt like I was done. I felt like I wasn’t worth anything but after volunteering at Second Harvest, I know I’m not done. Now I feel like I give something back to the community.”
Starke is a St. Joseph native. He has been married for 15 years and has three sons, two stepdaughters, 17 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Starke has brought some of his grandchildren to tour Second Harvest so they can see what the organization does for the community.
Starke encourages people to volunteer at Second Harvest because “there is always a need for help.” To learn more about volunteering, call Donna Thompson at 816-364-3663, ext. 209.