A Real Change vendor approaches the sales desk to purchase this week’s paper.
“Do you have any lunch today?” he asks. And then he laughs as we read the myriad of options — the list of choices doesn’t seem to end.
After a few minutes, he leaves with a bag full of groceries, homemade burritos, pastries and more. All of which were donated, or home-cooked, by Real Change volunteers to help offset the decline in income amid COVID-19.
Offering options to a population that is often told to quickly take whatever is handed to them is significant. At Real Change, we have been able to do this and so much more, thanks to the hard work and commitment of amazing volunteers.
From working at our lively sales desk to donating remarkable expertise in graphic design, cinematography and website development; from stocking our Food & Hygiene Center time and time again to clocking in at 6:30 am to work at our Annual Breakfast Fundraiser or wearing a sandwich board in the rain for Vendor Week; and from contributing to this newspaper weekly to copy editing each word — this is a mere snapshot of the incredible work Real Change volunteers accomplish every single day.
It is often said that volunteers are the heroes of Real Change. Today, and throughout National Volunteer Week, we honor the critical and inspiring contributions of Real Change heroes. In 2020 alone, volunteers contributed more than 6,000 hours of service to Real Change. This means that amid a terrifying global pandemic, volunteers unwavering in their passion and generosity served an average of 16 hours per day, 7 days per week, for 365 days. In the face of fear and uncertainty, volunteers went above and beyond to support the Real Change community. This critical work has not gone unnoticed.
Without the steadfast, compassionate support of Real Change volunteers, our Vendor Center would not be able to run as smoothly, nor support vendors in the meaningful ways we do. This sentiment is shared throughout the Real Change organization.
When asked about the vital role that volunteers play at Real Change, our Development and Communications Associate Ace Azul explains, “The volunteers I’ve worked with always step up to the plate and go above and beyond in their work.”
Vendor Support Specialist Caroline St. Clair highlights how volunteer contributions “bring so much joy into the office and put a smile on every masked face.”
Caroline was not the only person who discussed feelings of joy when asked about Real Change volunteers. There are the quantifiable aspects of volunteering at Real Change — helping staff and vendors complete day-to-day tasks, writing personalized cards for vendors, collecting supplies or donating food — all of which are vital to the operations of Real Change. But then there are the less quantifiable aspects of this work that make volunteers’ impact so special.
It is impossible to describe how meaningful it is when a volunteer becomes a friendly, recognizable face within the Real Change community. You simply cannot measure the significance of someone asking another individual, “How are you doing today?” and genuinely caring about the answer.
Real Change volunteers understand what we are about here at Real Change- building meaningful connections. They live those values in the work they do, and the multitude of ways they show up.
This week is all about recognizing and celebrating you: Real Change volunteers who take action and dedicate their time and talents to making a difference. Together, because of your overwhelming support, we are doing exactly that.
We cannot thank you enough!
Read more of the Apr. 21-27, 2021 issue.