Volunteers Are At the Heart of Everything We Do.

Selecting one extra-special volunteer each month is one of the hardest tasks we tackle at MANNA; we love them all!

V.I.P. for October 2014: Pat Meyer

Oct_14VIPThis month we recognize Pat Meyer as volunteer of the month for MANNA. MANNA supporter Charlie Dunlop and his wife Melody started a garden with the plans of donating fresh vegetables to MANNA. It was quite a success; the garden produced over 3,600 pounds of squash, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and beans.

According to Charlie, much of the “muscle” behind the garden’s bounty has been provided by Pat. “Pat has been a tremendous help working in the garden…just one of the amazing feats she performed included picking over 350 pounds of bush beans while sitting on an upturned five gallon bucket!” In addition to picking a variety of veggies, Pat performed the thankless task of weeding, weeding…and more weeding.

Pat moved to Asheville from Illinois last year, and she revealed during a short chat that she divides her time working at another community garden, this one in Black Mountain. When she isn’t exercising her green thumb, Pat helps prepare food that comes from MANNA at the Groce United Methodist Church Welcome Table every Thursday. She joined the church after moving to the area, and according to Charlie, she has “given volunteerism new meaning. She is really a blessing to all that know her.”

Do you know someone that we should consider for V.I.P. of the month? Drop us a line at bupham@mannfoodbank.org and let us know.

V.I.P. for September 2014: All Our Volunteers!

volunteerVIVGo ahead, take a bow! You deserve it. If you’ve volunteered at MANNA in 2014, count yourself as a “Very Important Volunteer.” (That would make you a V.I.V., but let’s not get too technical.) MANNA’s volunteer center has undergone major changes as part of the Space to Erase Hunger project. Throughout the construction project, our volunteers have endured noise, several temporary moves, and even a few last minute cancellations.  Have any of these obstacles slowed down our volunteers as they tirelessly work to help distribute food to those in need? The answer to that question is a resounding, “No!” And take heart if you were feeling even the slightest bit weary: the end the end of first phase of construction is near, at which time MANNA’s volunteer center will move into its new permanent space!

A benefit of the new space is that volunteers will reside at the heart of our distribution warehouse. The volunteer center will be bookended by our reclaim center and distribution floor, ideal for its physical proximity to distribution. It is only fitting for volunteers, the lifeblood of MANNA, to reside in the center of our operations!

While individual volunteers have continued to donate their time despite the construction, volunteer groups were forced to take a temporary hiatus. In October, groups from local schools, clubs, and faith based organizations will resume their weekly, monthly, and quarterly shifts within the confines of the new volunteer space.  Volunteers of all walks will put MANNA’s mission into action by involving, educating, and uniting people in the work of ending hunger in Western North Carolina.  For anyone interested in helping to realize MANNA’s mission, please contact mgruber@mannafoodbank.org or 828-299-3663 ext. 245.


sierra2V.I.P. for August 2014: Sierra Paturalski

This month we would like to recognize Sierra Paturalski as our V.I.P. Volunteer. Sierra began volunteering at MANNA a little over a year ago, when she moved to Asheville from the suburbs of Chicago. Calling MANNA and attending an orientation were among the first things she did after the boxes where unpacked.

Sierra began as a warehouse volunteer on Fridays, and now she has expanded her duties and works with the new MANNA Food HelpLine on Thursdays.  Volunteering for MANNA has changed the way she views food and people struggling with hunger. “I had never worked at a food bank before,” Sierra says. “I was pleasantly surprised by a few things.  One, there is so much good food that gets ‘repurposed’ that would otherwise be wasted, and to be a part of getting it to those in need is gratifying. I am also happy with the amount of fruits and vegetables that I see here,” she says. “I didn’t expect there to be this much healthy food.”

Her work on the MANNA HelpLine has changed her views on hunger and how quickly a financial crisis can happen. “So many families are living paycheck to paycheck,” she says. “When people lose their job, there’s urgency to their situation. They tell me, ‘I really want to find a job and work,’ and I can tell they do.”

Volunteer manager Max Gruber says that Sierra arrived at MANNA at about the same time he began his position, and she’s been a great example to him of a model volunteer. “She’s reliable, committed, and a hard worker,” he says. “And she does it all with a smile and a great attitude.” Congratulations, Sierra, and thank you, volunteers, for all that you do!


SueV.I.P. for July 2014: Sue Quran

This month we recognize MANNA Food Helpline volunteer Sue Quran. Sue has served as one of our top volunteers with the MANNA Food Helpline since the new program was first introduced in June. In addition to assisting clients over the phone, she has also devoted countless hours organizing materials and serving as a “Packet Specialist,” compiling documentation for direct mailing to clients and the Department of Social Services. In doing so, Sue has consistently made herself available, often filling in for others, and bringing her customer service expertise as well as her heart and soul to her job. We are so appreciative of her time and skills!


V.I.P. for June 2014: Louise O’Connor


This month we recognize volunteer, sponsor, and donor Louise O’ Connor. Louise has been involved with MANNA since 2006. She took over the VERY important position of Auction Committee Chair for the Blue Jean Ball in 2013, and she and her dynamo team have taken that part of the event to the next level. She describes the hundreds of hours she donates to MANNA as a “gift of the heart,” and everyone who sees her smile knows she has a big one!

Chief Development Office Donna Ensley has this to say about Louise: “Her passion for ensuring all people have food to eat is infectious to all who know her.  Her enthusiasm for our work has touched the lives of her friends, her family and everyone she asked to help and is reflected in the outstanding results of the BJB silent auction and the amazing committee of friends who joined her putting it together.”