As Volunteer Appreciation Week approaches, I am tasked with finding an appropriate, meaningful and truly heartfelt way of expressing thanks to our volunteers. Each year I spend countless hours trying to come up with the exact, right words or gift or event that will convey exactly how much their service has meant, how it already has and will continue to change lives. And each year I fear that I fall short of my own expectations and that we will not be able to convey to our volunteers the impact of their service.
The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. ~Eric Hoffer
I recently came across this quote and it resonated with me on many levels. The more I thought about it the more I wanted to center this around it because Roadrunner is truly blessed to have each and every one of our volunteers.
So, let’s do the math. Last year, Roadrunner Food Bank was blessed to open our doors for a volunteer 33,000 times. Some volunteers came once, others came multiple times and all combined gave a total of 85,000 hours of service in support of our clients. According to Independent Sector.org, the value of one hour of volunteer service in New Mexico has a monetary value of $17.69. If I’m doing the math correctly, the value of service provided right here in our Food Bank last year totaled $1,504,113. Wow! Just, wow. How do we thank our volunteers for such an astonishing accomplishment?
The simple truth is, the thank yous’ that will mean most to our volunteers are the ones they may never hear. It is the silent thanks a mother sends up when she is able to use her SNAP benefits to purchase food for her children; it is the quiet prayer of gratitude a family makes before sitting down to a healthy dinner; the laugh and sparkle in a child’s eye as he blows out the candles on a cake his parents were able to get at one of our Mobile Food Pantry’s; it is when the fear recedes from the face of the man who has just been handed an emergency food box. Those moments, the ones that you will probably never witness are the moments when your service is felt the most.
On behalf of all Roadrunner staff, I would like to add our whole hearted and loudly shouted THANK YOU for all those meals you have helped provide to our hungry neighbors.
Lisa Sciorilli is the Event and Volunteer Engagement Manager at Roadrunner Food Bank.