Volunteers are vital to the efforts of area nonprofits like Tempe Community Action Agency (TCAA), which serves as one of Tempe’s social service agencies — offering a wide array of services within programs unique to the city that impact more than 30,000 adults, children and seniors throughout the East Valley.
Volunteers are essential to TCAA’s ability to effectively assist community members who find themselves in a period of financial crisis. The agency’s director of philanthropy, Sophia Campbell, notes that there is no such thing as a “typical” volunteer. “Volunteers come from all age groups and backgrounds,” says Campbell. “From 20-somethings to retirees, there are numerous opportunities to serve that fit with their stage in life and availability.”
Here’s a sampler of the many volunteers of all ages who help TCAA positively impact our community:
- Now 76, Dick Leutkemeyer delivered meals to homebound seniors one day a week for the past 12 years. “Volunteering provided me with a perspective on how fortunate I am. If an individual is in good health and has a positive outlook on life, I see no obstacles to volunteering.”
- Azalea Thomson is a 20-year-old global health major at ASU who helps at TCAA’s front desk and works with clients at the food pantry. She’s learned about food insecurity in her classes, but “getting a real-world experience and interacting with people whose daily lives are affected is something that I will always take away from my time here,” says Azalea. Her schedule limits the amount of time she can contribute, but not the spirit and effort she brings to volunteering. “I would suggest investing in the experience fully. Being a volunteer is not simply going in once a month and working for a few hours, it is really about connecting with the both the clients we serve and the other volunteers and staff you’re working alongside.”
- April and Ashley Culbertson have been a mother/daughter volunteer duo at the TCAA food pantry since last November. Now 16, Ashley wanted to start volunteering, but was limited to finding an opportunity after school hours. Her mom, who’s 47, was looking for ways to get involved in philanthropy and wanted to spend quality time with her daughter, but she needed after work hours. The pantry’s Tuesday/Thursday evening shift was a great fit for both. They have passed out food to clients at the pantry, stocked shelves and entered new clients into the database. “I am able to give back to the community,” says April, “and take my mind off my own life for a while. TCAA is a great organization to get involved with. There is no greater gift than giving back.”
- Laurie Koenig is a self-employed 56-year-old empty nester who started helping TCAA a little more than a year ago in the food pantry and with data entry to our database. She was looking for some added “purpose” in her life. “Hunger, especially in the USA, should not exist,” notes Laurie. “I wanted to take an active role in reducing hunger and food insecurity.” Her schedule is more flexible than some, so she can volunteer during a variety of shift times. “Volunteering with TCAA has allowed me to expand my view of the world and my community. I am uplifted by those around me; the group energy is powerful and positive”
“If you have a heart for service and are looking for an opportunity to make a difference, TCAA needs you as a volunteer,” Campbsell says.
In addition to ongoing volunteer needs at the pantry, with the homeless shelter program and drivers for home-delivered meals, TCAA currently is looking for:
- Administrative support/front desk/data entry
- Drivers to pick up food pantry donations
- Medical health practitioners willing to volunteer their services as guest speakers to clients of TCAA’s pre- and post-natal programs and senior services.
For more information, visit www.tempeaction.org.