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SLO Food Bank

Coalition of San Luis Obispo County

Volunteer Stories

Shirley, in pink, works with another volunteer in Atascadero

Shirley Gives Something for Something

Shirley, a resident of Atascadero, volunteers almost every week at the USDA and Senior Brown Bag food distributions at the Grange Hall. She has given hundreds of hours to help others. Is it because as a retiree she has time on her hands? Yes, in part. Is it because she enjoys hanging out with her friends and co-volunteers on Wednesday mornings? Yes, but that's not all.

Shirley is both a Food Bank volunteer and client. Like so many seniors in our area, she struggles to make ends meet on Social Security checks that just don't go far enough. "I worked most of my life, except when my children were young, but I most often had jobs like waitressing that didn't pay very well," Shirley says. Still, she never dreamed she would not have enough money to get by in her later years, and she's not all that happy about needing help. She and many of her friends volunteer in order to give back. "I don't like getting something for nothing," she explains, "and this way I can give my time in return for food to help me make it through each month."

Charlee Volunteered for Kids' Sake

"I know what it's like to be hungry," says Charlee. "I remember how it affected me and my ability to function; just imagine what it does to kids as they're developing."

Although he's now a Food Bank staff member, Charlee volunteered almost 40 hours a week for over a year. It all started when, with less than a dollar in his pocket and about 25 pounds underweight, he was walking by the Food Bank on the way to a friend's house in Paso Robles. He stopped in, Food Bank staffers found a way to get him food regularly, and Charlee began to heal.

It took time, though. Charlee admits that his brain wasn't working up to par in those days. "The warehouse manager had to explain a simple concept to me at least three times before I began to get it," he recalls. Eventually Charlee did get it, and got it well enough to become highly valued as a volunteer. Now he's on staff in the Paso warehouse, driving the forklift and preparing deliveries.

Charlee still has his soft spot for kids. "There are lots of kids in North County, and many are from low-income families. I like knowing that the work I do makes a little bit of a difference for them."

Interested in Volunteering?

Ready to create a story of your own? Download a volunteer application and email it to:

Megan Chicoine: mchicoine@slofoodbank.org

Or you can contact us for information on how you can help.