‘Paying It Forward’ is the theme as staff members join fight against hunger as part of University’s Volunteer Service Initiative.
“Paying It Forward” was an appropriate theme when staff from UMB’s Office of Human Resources (HR) volunteered May 23–24 at the Maryland Food Bank in Halethorpe, Md.
Upon their arrival, volunteer program coordinator Paul Lynner welcomed them and took them to a room where he presented a video introducing a world that fights hunger by bringing healthy food into local communities.
Maryland is considered to be one of the wealthiest states in the nation, but the food bank distributes more than 37 million meals annually into communities impacted by food insecurity — not knowing where the next meal will come from.
Lynner believes that no one in Maryland should go hungry. “Food is such a basic human right; it allows everyone to live up to their full potential, and if I can somehow help make that happen, that’s all the motivation I need to do what I do,” he said.
There are many ways to help the food bank. Some places to volunteer include warehouses, kitchens, offices, farms, markets, or live events. In addition to volunteering, there are financial opportunities such as donating online or fundraising with a group, individually, or starting a virtual food drive.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Maryland Food Bank to help hungry children, hardworking families, seniors, and veterans throughout our state,” Lynner said.
At the warehouse, HR members enjoyed assisting in the kitchen by packaging vacuumed-sealed food items such as meat, rice, green beans, mixed vegetables and fish; cutting and preparing fruit; and sorting and boxing pantry items from the conveyer belt.
“My first time volunteering at the Maryland Food Bank made me feel extremely grateful,” said Karla Evans, an HR supervisor . “This opportunity provided me with insight on the impact that being a volunteer can have on our community. I hope to make volunteering and helping others in need a bigger part of me and my family’s life .”
“I’m sitting at work the majority of the day, and the volunteer outing was therapeutic for my body and soul — to be at a place like the Maryland Food Bank. There was a lot of moving, lifting, and cleaning, and at the end of the day, you know that you’ve helped others in our great state of Maryland,” said Jessica Moreno, staffing specialist.
As part of UMB’s Volunteer Service Initiative, all regular state faculty and staff employees are eligible to participate. UMB allows staff to use four hours of paid leave to volunteer at a nonprofit organization each calendar year to encourage civic engagement around the University community. UMB’s Office of Community Engagement has developed a website with potential volunteer opportunities. For more information on how to volunteer, contact HRWell@umaryland.edu.