Over the past eight months, my responsibilities here at the Regional Food Bank have included scheduling volunteer groups to come and work in our Volunteer Center, and following up with them afterwards. I am constantly surprised at how much the words ‘Thank you’ are used during those conversations and email exchanges. I’m not surprised at how much I say it. I say it a lot, and I’ll come back to that in a moment. I’m surprised at how much the volunteers say it.
Here are some examples:
“Thank you so much for getting our group scheduled. Our team is so excited to come and help!”
“Volunteering last Saturday was great! Everyone in my group was inspired by the act of helping others, and made aware of how truly grateful we are for our living circumstances. Thanks a million!”
“Thank you for the wonderful experience for my daughter and I to share. She had just turned 8 so I was a little concerned she may not be able to do what was planned for us. When her little arms got tired from packing backpacks you found something she COULD do! Thank you!!! She hasn’t stopped talking about all the little kids she helped. WE will definitely be back!”
I’m going to be honest. It’s a little bit awkward for me to receive thanks like this. I mean, think about it. We’ve asked you to give up some of the precious time from your busy schedule to come and perform unpaid manual labor. You’ve agreed to do so, we’ve scheduled an appointment, you’ve followed through with great enthusiasm. That’s amazing. It’s amazing for one person do to it so willingly, but you aren’t one person, are you? We get over 3,000 volunteers each month who donate their time and enthusiasm to our mission of “Fighting Hunger … Feeding Hope.” Volunteers are the driving force behind the work we do here at the Regional Food Bank. Did you know that you saved us over $2 million in manual labor costs last year?
And after all that, you thank me?
We already can’t thank you enough to begin with, but I’m going to keep on trying. This week is National Volunteer Appreciation Week. I hope we appreciate you every week of the year, but I’m going to borrow this platform to say it again:
Thank YOU volunteers. Thank you ever so much. We genuinely couldn’t do this work without you, and I hope you know that.