Monday through Friday we have a volunteer who helps interview the clients and issue information and or vouchers for our food bank, clothing or specific necessities for their home. That is from 9:00 am to Noon. It involves clients coming to a small foyer and receiving area where they present their picture ID and stated needs. The volunteer signs them in along with checking some appropriate info. Then the volunteer looks up that household for updating their file info and or printing the voucher for the above. Monday, Wednesday and Fridays are standard Food Bank days, while Tuesday and Thursdays are for clothing and other non-food items.
Emergency needs for food items are handled as situation arises. Phone calls requiring general info are handled by the volunteer, but any major or specific requests are handled by the staff. Often the phone calls are from donors requesting our pick up services for donations. There are some hands on training done by current volunteers and staff. A basic understanding of how to key-board and use a mouse will be helpful, as well as a positive perspective on phone messaging or distressed folks seeking real help. Interior renovations will provide a new environment similar to a medical office and waiting area. This will naturally set up a more conducive work space for both confidentiality and building relationships in a more relaxed setting.
Food Pantry Distribution
MWF from 9:00 am to noon this volunteer takes in the vouchers and distributes pre-bagged groceries in amounts of small, medium and large to appropriately sized households allotments. Bread, fresh vegetables or other food items can be then distributed as well. Training is minimal.
Sorters of Donations: This is the single largest area of ongoing help needed. Clothing sorters use our system to sort clothing by quality, sizes, gender and types (such as accessories or non-clothing or shoes). Some of the excess or wrong seasoned items or even damaged go to a recycling firm who reimburses us. Some items are stored for the next season in our Trailer storage space. Clothing donations are the single busiest area and requires some training and an understanding that this work is vital to the overall ministry of the Mission to this community. The Mission clothing thrift store is called Bargains and Blessing Clothing Store. This is a neighborhood store that directly impacts this area of Huntsville by offering locals the opportunity to socialize, spend small amount of funds for quality items and a safe place to receive the support that “community” is all about.
The other half of Bargains and Blessings is the house wares and collectibles store. It offers the bargain hunters and clients the opportunity to improve their housing situation and that ancient desire to discover a treasure. Necessity items such as something to sleep upon, cook with or eat with are part of the items that can be vouchered to qualifying clients. This store has a quick turn around in inventory and it is important to keep organized and customer friendly all the way from the rare books to the bedding and china. It should be noted that after volunteers have signed up and are working they may get a 20% discount at either store.
Food Bank Warehouse
This area is primarily where many of our clients in the HOPE House Recovery Program learn what it is to help others and stay sober. Food Drives to enhance the Food Bank inventory is needed at all churches, civic organizations, schools and events. These are vital to the ministry. Groups do often come in with their food items that have been donated and help make up packages or organize the food bank. Any major dry goods can goods or frozen item is encouraged to be donated. We use commercial size containers to help supply our kitchen for the two hot meals served daily. We feed about 2,100 hot meals monthly. Through our MWF distribution of groceries we serve about 625 households each month which translates to over 135 tons of food each year.
Note: Other volunteering requires specialized skills and commitments, such as mentoring adults in sober living. Developing healthy relationships with out becoming an enabler or caretaker of financial needs is the goal here. These folk’s help others become effective problem solvers and skillful members of society who add to the overall quality of life.
Bible study partners, accountability partners, parenting skills mentors, and the occasional “taxi” volunteer are all things that can be of major help, but need to be coordinated by Mission staff.
Special building, remodeling, repairing and upgrading projects to the facilities are continually needed and appreciated. The Mission will also help coordinate community projects with our elderly and disabled clients who are very much appreciative of special ministry projects.
Community Service hours and volunteer time are tracked in order to facilitate grant requirements or legal system commitments. Cassandra Curtis is the staff liaison for this. Special speaking engagements are handled by Dave Smith, the Executive Director.
Tours are available. If none of the above is of interest we keep a referral list of other organizations if an individual or group has specific skill or interest of special projects or concerns. You are needed!