Dear White Bear Food Shelf Volunteers,

It has been an absolute pleasure to serve our community with all of you.  Thank you for your commitment to our mission and our neighbors!  I am very grateful for my time here and the opportunity to get to know so many of you.  All of your kind words and well wishes are deeply appreciated.  I will miss being here but look forward to volunteering again!  🙂

One of the most significant lessons I have learned during the past three years is that being present, listening and simply caring – even if we can’t alleviate all the pressures they face – is one of most impacting things we do.  During my last week on staff I received a call from Nancy* of whom I had worked with to find housing.  She and her husband were homeless and despite all their efforts and the multiple application fees they could not find a place to call home.  I did the best I could to provide resources (basically just phone numbers) but she said the fact that I cared, genuinely cared, was the most meaningful.  “You were the only one who truly helped me.”

Some of you ask me how it is that I don’t cry every day hearing about utility disconnect notices, landlords that refuse to fix mold problems, babies that test positive for lead poisoning, past due rent, job loss, lack of transportation, chronic diagnosis, etc.  One of the reasons why is that what we do, providing access to healthy food, and doing so in abundance, really does make a difference in the lives of our neighbors.  Even though many of our neighbors don’t know where money may come from to pay rent or the accumulating medical bills they have food for their families, and that is no small thing!

Alicia 8.20.15On this day, on the phone with Nancy, I did cry.  It was hard to believe that by simply fielding her phone calls (you’d be surprised how many of our neighbors rarely receive returned phone calls from people/organizations), listening and affirming the struggle she and her husband faced made such a significant impact.  I cried because I was ‘that person’: the person that helped another human being, the person that recognized the value and worth of a neighbor, and the person that made a difference in someone’s life.  I cried because I was so humbled.  Even though I felt helpless trying to support her, I did.  Being ‘that person’ for our neighbors has been the most amazing part of my work here and it is a privilege to know that we really do make a difference.   Our neighbors are rarely treated like they matter so, please, in my absence keep being ‘that person’ to all our neighbors by greeting them kindly, offering a hand, treating them with respect and listening.

Humbly,  Alicia

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