Above and Beyond: The Volunteers Behind the Volunteers
When you think of Second Harvest Heartland volunteers, you likely picture people in a warehouse packing boxes and sorting food. In many cases, this is an accurate image of our ‘traditional’ volunteers, who are crucial in our fight against hunger. But there are other volunteers who are just as crucial but not quite as visible. Second Harvest Heartland volunteers also answer phones, help with data entry and assist with other administrative work. They help keep our day-to-day operations humming! Elise Saggau and Jerri Freier, two of our dedicated data entry specialists, are part of a legion of behind-the-scenes volunteers whose inconspicuous work is absolutely vital to the daily operations at Second Harvest Heartland.
In 2011, nearly 12,000 volunteers collectively contributed time equivalent to 29 full-time employees.
With that many volunteers, Elise and Jerri’s work entering volunteer hours into the system and managing the volunteer database is vital to making our volunteer program run so smoothly.
“Second Harvest Heartland is trying to get food to those who need it and volunteers help make that possible,” said Jerri. “So, my little task of entering and confirming data just helps make sure those volunteers are able to volunteer, are recognized for volunteering and, hopefully, return to volunteer more so Second Harvest Heartland can help get food to those who need it.”
Like a lot of our volunteers, Elise and Jerri contribute time to Second Harvest Heartland because they believe in our mission of fighting hunger and helping those in need in our community. “I feel I’m part of a large and very efficient operation that is dedicated to feeding the hungry, and that is very important to my personal value system,” said Elise. “From the beginning of my work with Second Harvest, I have been made to feel very welcome and appreciated. While entering data can be very tedious, I am actually seeing the wide reach of Second Harvest Heartland as I review the generosity of so many persons of many ages, cultures and walks of life who volunteer their time and talent for the sake of this mission.”
More than anything, Elise and Jerri realize the impact they have on Second Harvest Heartland’s ability to operate in the most efficient way possible. “I know that what I do is essential to the organization. Doing
it as a volunteer is the equivalent of a significant financial contribution which I am not able to make from my personal resources,” said Elise.
We are fortunate that volunteers like Elise and Jerri are willing to do the unrecognized and often unglamorous jobs for the sake of our commitment to the community. They, along with our wide network of volunteers, partners and donors, are the heart of Second Harvest Heartland, and we couldn’t be more thankful.