If you are ever in need of a dose of inspiration, it takes nothing more than walking through the doors of the MANNA Volunteer Center any day of the week. You will be greeted with the bustle of people, the clang of pallet jacks, and a peek at the daily work of what it takes to get 39,500 meals out the door every day of the year.
At the heart of all this activity are the incredible volunteers that give generously of their time—over 69,900 hours in 2016—to make this daily work possible. Incredible volunteers, like Al and Ann Mojonnier, who have spent every Tuesday morning for over two decades working towards our shared vision of a hunger-free WNC.
As weekly volunteers in the Volunteer Center, Al and Ann are regular faces, never missing a shift other than for planned vacations, sorting food donations into specific categories, inspecting every item for food quality and safety assurance, and doing a lot of heavy lifting.
When we found out that Al and Ann were relocating, and thus taking a step back from their weekly volunteer schedule at MANNA, we knew we wanted to do something to recognize them. So we went straight to the source, and spoke with several volunteers that are part of their regular Tuesday morning shift crew.
“They are such nice, engaging people,” says Jena Peterson, a regular Tuesday morning volunteer that works alongside the Mojonniers. “They bring that intergenerational feel into MANNA, which is nice.”
Jena admires their commitment, which is more than just a mentality for the Mojonniers. “I think it’s impressive for people in their age range, because they are lifting heavy boxes, and doing physical work that is pretty unusual for people of their age,” Jena says.
While this only captures a piece of what the Mojonniers, since 2011 (when MANNA began keeping digital records of volunteer contributions), this dedicated couple has donated a combined total of over 1300 hours, with Ann edging Al out by just 3 hours.
“I’ve been working with Ann and Al for several years,” says Barbara McCutcheon. “I’m going to miss our repartee at the food sorting tables. They’re charming people and I’m lucky I was able to meet them. I wish them all the best!”
From all of us at MANNA, both staff and volunteers, we salute Al and Ann for their decades of compassionate action to help provide food to all those that need it across WNC.