By MARY NADER
One of the great rewards of my job is to see the transformation that takes place at Fishline every weekday morning.
While sharing stories of their lives, discussing current events or passing along tips on preparing asparagus, volunteers bring their best game, and a front market takes shape that will provide life-giving food for the line of clients building outside the door. When I give tours, it is one of the observations most often made — that so many people are working so well together with such purpose and determination.
The same kind of preparation is also happening across the street at Second Season, as volunteers sort through donations, build beautiful displays and set up the cash register with the hope for a busy, profitable day. Neighbors donate clothes and household items which we turn into a chance to help someone keep their home or keep it warm.
Aside from the regular positions like grocery pickup, sorting, stocking, receptionists and cashiers, there are many other ways volunteers help us. They assist with administrative projects, like data entry and accounting, offer skills like carpentry and information technology, they do web site design and keep our Facebook page current and contribute a myriad of other talents that help us grow and serve.
Fishline volunteers are members of our community who come from all walks of life. They are students, people between jobs, retired rocket scientists and architects, teachers and doctors, parents and grandparents, joined together by a common mission about which they are deeply passionate. They work hard, come up with new and inventive ways to better our work, and even when they aren't at Fishline, they are thinking of ways to help even more.
To accept the generosity of these gifts can be humbling. It’s natural to wonder how we can repay such acts of kindness. Somehow, saying “thank you” just doesn’t seem like enough. But our volunteers remind us that, though it may seem like they are working for free, they often feel like a volunteer recently expressed, “You give me so much more than I give — working here brings me great joy.” Perhaps there is a satisfaction knowing that, though there are so many things out of our control, making our community a better place is one that is squarely within reach. As Margaret Mead, the noted anthropologist, once said, “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Every April, our country celebrates this volunteer spirit with National Volunteer Week, this year April 21-27. To the hundreds of volunteers who keep our mission moving forward, and to all the members of our community who contribute to Fishline throughout the year, we salute you. Fishline couldn’t exist a single day without you, but with your help, we can change our world.
— Mary Nader is executive director of Fishline. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.