Last month we featured some of our longest serving Volunteer Team Leaders with a combined 43 years of service. As with all of our Team Leaders Bob Dascanio and Laura and Jim Coughlin have inspired thousands of volunteers over the years while leading groups at our farms. This type of engagement is what makes this a very special place, if you have visited any of our farms you know just how important our Volunteer Team Leaders are to our operation. The stories of how our Team Leaders arrive here and stay connected continue to inspire and attract a new crop of volunteers each year. This is what has allowed us to continue to grow and provide an exceptional volunteer experience for all of our volunteers year in and year out.
This month we would like to feature some of our newest and youngest Volunteer Team Leaders. They all have one thing in common as they joined the team and began filling the role of Volunteer Team Leader during our 2017 farming season. It’s good to know that the legacy that Bill and Rose Abbott put in place back in the 1970’s is still inspiring today’s youth to get involved and help others in the community. Read on to learn more about this amazing group of new Volunteer Team Leaders and how they connect with the mission.
Kristina Weldon started working with us in June as a friend had told her about his experience at CHP and suggested she get involved as a way to put herself into a position to develop leadership skills. The role did just that as she really enjoys the fact that she gets to work with volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. She chose CHP because of the type of work that we do and the fact that our produce is donated to help others. One of the added bonuses for her is that she “loves getting up early and being productive while helping others.” Her favorite memory from this summer was working with a group that was visiting from Venezuela. She initially had a difficult time getting them to understand her direction, but with a quick switch to Spanish she was able to communicate and help them understand.
Alex Valoras first volunteered at CHP in 4th grade which she remembers as an absolute blast. Fast forward and this past summer she decided to begin volunteering and became a Volunteer Team Leader. To hear her tell the story her decision was based on the fact that she wasn’t doing anything valuable at home and the farm provided a convenient, local and awesome opportunity to volunteer. She is incredibly passionate about what we do. Growing food locally, increasing access for those in need to eat healthier and growing the vegetables as naturally as possible are all things that she appreciates. She said “I also loves the community that is fostered at CHP, as the team leaders I work with and volunteers that I lead are all so kind and genuinely care about being here.” She also likes the diversity of volunteer groups and the fact that you are always working with someone new on the farm which enhances the ability to learn quite a bit. Her favorite memory from this past summer was on her first visit of the season. She was picking blueberries and it began to rain. It began to thunder and the group made their way to the barn but not before being caught in a soaking downpour. It was an excellent bonding experience and according to her “an awesome first impression.”
Celine Bui first volunteered as a way to fulfill a requirement of service hours for her school. She chose CHP because she was touched and inspired by the CHP’s mission statement and the staff’s drive to help the community. “I learned so much more than I anticipated and wanted to join the movement.” What she enjoyed most as a Volunteer Team Leader was having the opportunity to meet new people. So many different groups, not just locally but also nationally, come to the farm with the intention of giving back to the community. Getting to know their story and their motivation to help CHP is what made her experience memorable. Her favorite memory from this summer was leading a group from Ohio who traveled to Massachusetts just to volunteer at CHP as part of the Young Neighbors Program. She worked with them for a few days and instantly clicked. They made little tasks such as removing suckers from tomato plants a lot of fun. She reports that she “created memories at CHP that I will never forget.”
Keehn Waterfall first visited the farm as an 11 year old as part of a home-school group that volunteered here regularly. He remembers having a great time with a group of his friends. He landed here because his mom always looks for cool places to bring him and his younger sister and she found CHP. In the Volunteer Team Leader role he enjoys the challenge of being friendly and the leader of a group. He reports that there is a lot to do and keep track of. You have to balance being a leader and working side by side with the volunteers. Some of the best parts of leading is the rewarding nature of the work and the challenge to learn and get better every visit. Keehn’s favorite memory from this summer was leading a group of volunteers from our partner organization Community Servings. He reports that the group was “cool, with awesome attitudes towards life. They had great stories to tell and had fun while working in the field together.”
This amazing group of our newest Team Leaders have hit many of the high notes about this really special role of Volunteer Team Leader. They illustrate the fact that quite often our volunteers report that they get more than they give when volunteering at Community Harvest Project. Thanks to Kristina, Alex, Celine and Keehn for joining our team in 2017 and for sharing a little bit about why they volunteer with Community Harvest Project.