What is your calling? Is there something that you just feel inspired to do in life?
Volunteers are the heart and soul of any organization. They carry their values and represent selflessness in a world where we could all use a little more compassion.
As much as we adore volunteers – having them organized together and committed to a common goal would not be possible without a volunteer manager. North York Harvest Food Bank’s volunteer manager is Lisa Anderson and in honour of Volunteer Manager Appreciation Day on November 5, I think we should get to know her just a little bit better.
Lisa has been with North York Harvest for more than ten years engaging with volunteers, staff and clients. Each year she works with over 2000 volunteers, some directly and some only in passing but all, either knowingly or unknowingly, supported by her. These volunteers work in the food bank serving clients; on the trucks picking up donations of food; in stores greeting donors; helping us stuff envelopes in the office; making thank you calls to donors and so much more. Without these volunteers – helping over 15,000 people in northern Toronto meet their food needs would be impossible.
Was this always her calling? For myself, I kind of just fell into working in the non-profit sector; while other people knew they wanted to do the job. Lisa was both. “I was in social work for 20 years and got tired of it – so I took some time off to volunteer. That is when I realized what I wanted to do in my life.” Says Lisa. So she took a volunteer management course and got involved with the food bank.
After 10 years you would think that Lisa would have to have some special stories under her belt. I asked her if there were any that really stuck out in her mind.
“Back in 2013 I nominated our volunteer Richard to receive the The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal to honour his many years volunteering with North York Harvest. At the time he had volunteered for 19 years and still volunteers to this day. I was absolutely thrilled when he received the medal! It was a wonderful event celebrating a hardworking and respected member of our family.”
Lisa also draws inspiration from those that use the food bank as well. “The way the food bank touches people on a daily basis is humbling. A woman that touched my heart in particular was a refugee that had come from Africa. She had two children and her husband had passed away right before they were to come to Canada. It was extremely tough for her – she didn’t know anyone and had lost everything from back home. It was completely beyond her control. I don’t know if that is something that I would be able to do – her strength amazed me. Each person I meet can be a new inspiration and I don’t take that for granted.”
So what keeps Lisa going after all of these years? She tells me that each day can be a new experience. From meeting new people from different walks of life to facing new challenges.
“What satisfies me the most about this job is helping people. If I can connect someone to a cause and opportunity that they really care about – it makes me feel great.”
Maybe Lisa can connect you with your perfect volunteer opportunity? Give it a shot and contact her at 416-635-7771 ex 29 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Has Lisa directly supported your volunteer experience? Leave a comment here about how she touched your life and we will pass on the message. Let’s make Volunteer Manager Appreciation Day awesome for our Volunteer Manager Lisa.