THE APPLE BASKET
Glimpses of Just Another Day as a Volunteer
It’s Thursday morning about 8:15. Carol and David discuss their plan to visit four supermarkets in the area. They’re looking forward to gathering all they possibly can of food stuffs too close to an expiration date, and thus more than the store can hold or sell. They know much of it they can use and it will help fill the SFB shelves. The van is empty—a familiar cavernous look—as they jump in and head out. Pretty soon a pallet of watermelons, a skid of water, 100 loaves of bread, and three large boxes of produce fill the void. By 9:30 they’ve checked off Sprouts and Walmart already. They drive the van back and unload—perishables in the cooler and freezer and the rest stacked to be sorted. Then it’s off again, two Safeway stores to go.
Judy, a kitchen volunteer, stares at the boxes and boxes of strawberries. Most are fine, but some are coated with a furry layer of mold. It’s nothing new. She’s just grateful the good ones will go into delivery boxes and shopping carts for the hungry. It’s not the most pleasant task in her day, but she carefully picks out the best ones and discards the yucky surprises, remembering the rotten watermelon she picked up last week as it exploded in her hands. It comes with the territory, and she’s used to it. She laughs out loud, and she still loves what she does.
It’s delivery day again. David, Bruce, and Ann get ready for their every other week shift. They drive the van filled with food boxes over to the Del Coronado Apartments. About 50 low-income folks, severely disabled, and seniors with mobility challenges are waiting for the packages that are their lifelines. Our volunteers meet a smile and thank-you at each door, and then they linger a few minutes for a chat. They feel pretty good as they return to the food bank, knowing their kindness has made a big difference for someone less fortunate.
It’s tax time again. Phyllis and Larry pore over the mountain of papers. Experience and expertise guide them as they uncover every dollar they can save for their clients. They know just the $176 their client would have had to pay a tax preparer can now be used for food or rent or maybe school supplies for the kids. They’re experts, provided through the Pio Decimo Center of Catholic Social Services. Many families return year after year, so by now they know most of them well. They gently offer some helpful suggestions to a client about family finances. They feel satisfied today that they did everything they could to help a family save money.
A reading room volunteer looks at their tiny faces, all of them mesmerized as she carefully articulates the next sentence. It’s another Storytime at SFB-CRC and she has looked forward to this day when she can be with the children again. “I just love to read,” one little boy squeals as he anxiously waits for the book he gets to take home with him. Parents see the excitement on their kids’ faces and want to encourage them now more than ever. She’s another volunteer who feels that special warmth that she can never really describe, but always comes back to feel again. As the kids shuffle out the door, she thinks about how she can’t wait to read to them again.
It’s a warm Saturday morning. Half-dozen cars are already lined up as the registration team gets ready for the first food bank visitors of the day. Sue, the operations manager, notes that Marnie, the third person in line, is crying, so she pulls her over to a private space. Soon both their faces are streaked with tears as Marnie shares her fear of an impending eviction, perhaps by the end of the month. The possibility of homelessness and hunger fuel the fear, but Sue first makes sure Marnie gets all the food she needs for her family of five, then contacts our navigator Roni, who’s on vacation in Canada. Roni assures her she will try to find available eviction assistance. Roni contacts Marnie as soon as she returns and guides her to the resources available through the American Rescue Plan.
These people would never tell you they are heroes, but their simple gestures in their volunteer work for us—a helping hand, a kind word, a sense of humor, an extra effort on a hot day, an enthusiasm for giving— can all add up. They’re clear and precious examples of how folks out there, just like those in our volunteer family, can be a force in making a better world.
A Bittersweet Farewell
It’s hard to lose dedicated volunteers, especially when they have been with our organization pretty much from the beginning.
Everyone connected with SFB-CRC wishes Bette Mulley all the best as she moves to Texas to be near her son, but her departure is a great loss to our community. Also a volunteer with White Elephant, The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ, and the Samaritans, Bette’s selfless service to others has been a benchmark of her identity as a compassionate and tireless giver.
SFB-CRC Board President Penny Pestle remembers a time that clearly characterized this dynamic petite package of principles with a passion for what she believed in. Bette joined Penny and her 12-year-old niece and her friend for Thanksgiving one year. Penny recalls their discussion about the Civil Rights movement in the 60s when suddenly Bette “matter-of-factly” shared in her lovely Southern lilt that she had marched and protested herself.
“The more she talked about it,” Penny remembers, “the more the two girls paid attention. Their eyes got bigger and bigger, and it was clear they didn’t expect this from her.”
There are a lot of things we don’t always see on the surface with our volunteers unless we take the time to dig deeper and get to know them better. Bette Mulley’s contributions in making her community a better place will be missed, and so will she.
Grandpa Rick Rocks
Affectionately known as “Grandpa Rick,” he has brought more than a helping hand over the last four years to our SFB-CRC volunteer family. Like many of those who give so much of themselves to keep our operation running smoothly, Rick Krieger finds joy in what he does for others. He displays that enthusiasm and positivity each time he’s with us, currently an impressive 28 hours a week
“It can bring a smile to their faces, and that makes me happy,” he says when describing his first experience helping clients shop. “I like shopping with our visitors. I’m looking forward to doing it again.”
He spent 44 years with Southwest Energy LLC, retiring four years ago as a safety and training manager. He was actually the company’s first employee. There are 220 today. Rick tackles a variety of jobs for SFB-CRC, including shopping, delivering, sorting, and helping April Young, our warehouse and logistics coordinator, with grocery rescue at area stores.
“We can count on him for everything that needs to be done,” April said. “He is a real partner.”
Most of our volunteers think of each other as friends, and April would be the first to admit that Rick is no exception. He has become sort of a mentor and buddy to her son Devin, one of our youngest volunteers. The two hunt and fish together, and they all gather for family dinners.
Rick has witnessed a lot of changes in the time he’s been with SFB-CRC—an increasing number of clients, the new building going up, National Guard assistance, and the addition of a forklift, a gift from Amphenol. “That forklift is a godsend,” he says.
He feels invested in SFB-CRC’s mission ahead. “I look forward to seeing more of our volunteers return, more food choices, and more storage space.”
Rick Krieger is a tireless senior worker who daily demonstrates what it means to be a joyful and selfless volunteer, but we hope he knows that he is much more to us than one of our volunteers.
He’s Grandpa Rick.
Nothing Will Stop Us Now
It doesn’t matter what obstacles get thrown into our path. With the generous help of donors, volunteers, and government entities, along with the dedication of our contractor, the new building and CRC programs keep moving forward.
In the face of blistering early summer heat—on one occasion the temperature on the roof was recorded at 128 degrees—MW Morrisey and their sub-contractors continue to astound us. They have persevered for five months now through delays, storms, and material challenges so that the plan to open in early February can remain in place.
The framing is complete. Trusses are installed, ensuring it’s structurally sound, and the building is now completely enclosed. The roof decking is done on the main part of the building, and the foundation for our 75,000 gallon water tank is in place. The tank will serve as our water source for fire suppression, since the local water system lacked the appropriate volume and pressure. We are currently utilizing water from several tanks provided by The Good Shepherd for temporary fire suppression.
SFB-CRC was recently informed that Pima County is recommending an additional $150,000 in contracts that we hope will be approved by the Board of Supervisors. If approved, it will bring the total of Pima County contracted support to $802,000, making Pima County our biggest donor by far.
We are also very excited about plans for the implementation in the first 90 days of five workforce development programs through our Community Resource Center to be housed in the new building. SFB-CRC will continue to provide family support and health and nutrition programs as well. Roni Singh, who volunteered and then contracted with us for the last two years, has agreed to a contract to become our first ever director of the Community Resource Center. Roni’s background in education and leadership makes her a perfect match for what we are creating, a chance for members of our community to get the help they need to make a new start in their lives.
Our workforce development program will offer:
Basic employability skills—a class by the local Arizona@Work One-Stop
Line and prep cooking—a six-week class with local chefs and restauranteurs teaching and placing interns
CNA and Certified Caregiver—six-week classes with a state certification opportunity through Pima Community College, who will teach on-site
Computer1A and data entry, including a focus on medical data entry
Women’s Food-Based Business Entrepreneurship Program
SFB-CRC’s Board, donors, staff, volunteers, and friends have given so much to this project. With the continuing dedication from our contractor and the ongoing generosity from those who want us to continue to be a beacon of hope, encouragement, and support for those in our community who want to improve their lives, nothing will stop us from keeping that mission alive.
Remember Us When You Shop
Whenever you shop at Amazon, don’t forget to participate in AmazonSmile. The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of your purchase price of eligible products toward SFB-CRC’s new building fund. It’s an easy way to help us out. If you are unfamiliar with AmazonSmile, just click on the logo for instructions on how you can sign up.
AmazonSmile: You shop. Amazon gives.
Saturday in the Park
Mark your calendar for upcoming Saturdays at Desert Meadows Park. Green Valley Gardeners, who provide us with thousands of pounds of produce each year, announced Super Saturdays—Art in the Park with music, food trucks, and a silent auction October 30 and November 6, 9-3, and a plant sale Saturdays and Sundays between October 30 through November 7, 9-3.
COVID Brought Both Agony and Opportunity | June 2021
Talented Techie A Find for Us | June 2021
Sneak Preview Coming Soon | June 2021
We Want You | June 2021
Facebook Fundraise For Us | June 2021
COVID Brought Both Agony and Opportunity
SFB-CRC did not escape any of the pain of the pandemic. We continue to mourn the loss of two of our cherished volunteers, Liz Wright and Larry Layton. We were forced to make the difficult decision to send our volunteers away for everyone’s protection while we struggled to find ways to continue to provide food for those in need in our community.
We had to suspend plans for Community Resource Center programs, and we scrambled to completely redesign the food distribution operation almost overnight. COVID prompted construction costs on the new building to dramatically increase because of raw material shortages, transportation challenges, and other factors.
Even so, we were blessed during the crisis with a tremendous response from the community—as well as government entities—that reaffirmed our faith that the human spirit can shine through the darkest days when you live in a place where people really care about each other. Donations, grants, food drives, and individual non-perishable contributions helped to ensure that SFB-CRC was still able to feed hundreds of our most vulnerable residents each week.
In addition, with the CARES Act of last year and subsequent funding, Pima County’s Workforce Community and Development Department, now led by Dan Sullivan, prioritized the completion of specific capital projects designed to make a critical contribution to the needs of the community in the coming years.
Two contracts with the county allow us to purchase equipment that is essential to SFB-CRC’s dual mission—to provide food, of course, but also to forge ahead with our workforce development programs and classes through our new resource center. These COVID dollars will significantly support the recovery in Sahuarita and Green Valley from the pandemic by helping transform the lives of many who need us the most.
In the face of often overwhelming sadness and anxiety, the people and their local leaders have sent us a message that we cannot take for granted—that they will always have our backs.
SFB-CRC is fortunate to attract amazing volunteers. They bring skills and experience beyond anyone’s expectations.
Leslie DeGrassi is our webmaster, a self-taught technology expert with a big heart. She also designs invitations and funding letters for us. The granddaughter of homesteading Marana melon and lettuce farmers, Leslie returned to her roots in Southern Arizona after retiring in 2012 from her job as a meeting planning manager for an IT association in Colorado, where she also worked closely with the webmaster as the “steward of the content.”
An Air Force pilot’s daughter, she was born in Flagstaff and lived in Vienna and many other places until her father was transferred to Davis-Monthan in Tucson, where she attended U of A. She married an oil company employee, and that took her family to Egypt in the 70’s during an Arab-Israeli conflict where she continued to raise their three children.
Talented Techie A Find For Us
She eventually returned to college at Colorado University in Boulder where she met her second husband Larry Worster. “He looked kind of interesting,” she said. They have been married for 30 years now. Music lovers around here know him as a bandleader and organizer of Green Valley’s Got Talent.
Leslie isn’t new to volunteering. She started in high school, and was once the executive director of the Bach Festival in Boulder. She says the SFB-CRC Board is the “best I’ve ever been on,” and asserts it has allowed her to “acknowledge my creative side.”
“I never thought of myself as creative before. I’m inspired by hearing what volunteers and staff say about clients, and by our executive director Carlos, who has both a giving heart and a can-do attitude.”
“I am so grateful,” said Board President Penny Pestle, “that Leslie is sharing that creativity with us as she supports the important work of the SFB-CRC.”
Sneak Preview Coming Soon
Keep an eye out for the announcement in early August, as SFB-CRC’s donors and friends will be able to take a first-hand look at the progress of the new building. It’s also a chance to meet and ask questions of Kevin Morrissey, owner of MWMorrissey, our general contractor, site supervisor Gene Swayngim, architect Liz Farkas from Poster Mirto McDonald, and Dennis St. John, our pro bono project manager.
The framing is well on its way and most of the utility lines are installed. Morrissey continues to impress the Board with their ingenuity and commitment to the project in the face of material shortages, huge price increases, and shipping delays.
“You and your team,” Board Secretary/Treasurer Jackie Smith said to them, “are magicians, and we are so fortunate to be working with you.”
We are excited about the opportunity to provide you with a close look at what a difference your generosity and support have made so far, so we look forward to seeing you later this summer.
We Want You
As the new building gets closer to completion, SFB-CRC will need more and different types of volunteer help. We would love to have you join our team.
Our volunteers are the backbone of the organization. They contribute about 22,000 hours per year, the equivalent of 11 full-time employees! All volunteers are trained to make sure they feel comfortable with their new roles, and cross-training allows volunteers to fill in for each other and learn a variety of tasks. All you need to do is go to our website, Sahuaritafoodbank.org, and fill out a volunteer interest form. As SFB-CRC gets closer to moving into the new building, we will reach out to you to find the perfect position.
We need people in our food operation to welcome and register clients, many who are Spanish speakers. Others provide assistance as they shop. We also need volunteers who can lift up to 40 pounds to move products, as well as someone who can drive an 18 foot box truck (no commercial license required). We require people to sort produce and contributions from groceries, clean work areas, do data entry for food acquisition and distribution, light duty maintenance, or help out with food drives and community events.
Less physical volunteer opportunities in a more administrative role include data entry, volunteer coordination and tracking, front-desk reception/welcoming of clients, and filing and general office duties.
We are especially looking forward to helping volunteers get settled into roles in our new community resource center where you will have the opportunity to have a direct impact in the lives of clients who are seeking to improve their economic standing and future for their families. We will be looking for volunteers to assist in assessment and development planning, vocational coaching and guidance one to one with bilingual language skills often needed, and computer and software instruction in Excel, Word, email, and basic computer skills. We will also need folks to teach business management skills for food business owners, childcare providers, and other career roles, and we will also need experienced instructors in prepping food, cooking, and hygiene practices.
It’s going to be an exciting time for us as we rebuild and expand our “volunteer corps” and we want you to be a part of it. Consider offering your time and talent to make a difference in the lives of so many who need you.
Facebook Fundraise For Us
You can actually create your own fundraising operation on Facebook for non-profits you support. If you decide to direct your efforts toward SFB-CRC and our mission to feed the hungry, as well as provide essential employment and business skills, you should know that it’s easy, and all donations go directly to us via direct deposit. No personal information is shared with SFB-CRC without permission.
To create your own fundraiser for SFB-CRC, just click here and follow these steps:
Click Fundraisers in the left menu of your News Feed. You may need to click See More.
Click Raise Money
Log into your Facebook account
Select Nonprofit or Charity
Search for and select “Sahuarita Food Bank,” fill in the fundraiser details and choose a cover photo.
It is that easy and a great way to support the work we do. For more information on Facebook Fundraisers, click here.