Volunteer of the Year 2020: Making a Difference
Congratulations to Sherlene, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s 2020 Volunteer of the Year! Since the spring of 2019, Sherlene has been making an incredible difference with all the work she has done in the organization.
When she heard that she was named Volunteer of the Year, Sherlene said her reaction was, “OK, why? And then it was, OK! Yay! But I wasn’t looking for it. I just do whatever I need to do to help.”
Since starting as a volunteer, she has worked mostly in repack. “I do the morning shift and afternoon shift,” she said, “and because of Covid, when we went back I did the evening shift, and I also worked in the kitchen doing lunch bags in the morning. I’ve done the City of Cleveland Muni Lot Drive-Thru Distributions, the Lakeland Community College Drive-Thru Distributions, and the Parma Senior High School Drive-Thru Distributions. I just enjoy what I’m doing and I’m learning a lot.”
“One thing I’ve learned – I’m extra conscious about learning the task and stuff, and taking it into my personal life… Really paying attention to dates and making sure that – even the tendency was when I’m cleaning my cupboards, I thought it’s expired so maybe I can give it away. I don’t really do that anymore,” she explained. “If I give it away, it’s current or future dates. I also look at the efforts that go into, from an organizational perspective, what everyone does including volunteers and staff, and that makes me really happy, because we’re helping the community.
“I’m following what my parents taught me – to give back. It’s important to me to give back to the community,” Sherlene said.
“Even when I was working, we had contests about Harvest for Hunger, so I made sure my team always won. When I retired, I knew I needed to do something, and have something that I could keep a regular schedule, being a task-oriented person.
“I knew the Food Bank is 10 minutes away. They let me try it out. It was my passion and I had the Harvest for Hunger collection at work. This just transitioned. I said, ‘Hey, let me try it out.’ I learned different tasks. I just enjoyed the people.”
It starts with wanting to help others. “For me personally, I’ve been very blessed and I have more than I need, so I believe I should give back,” Sherlene said. “I think anyone on the verge of retiring should have a passion, whether it’s golfing or whatever, but they should be able to pay back.”
“It is important that we give back to our neighbors. This is one thing I thought I can do and still get my exercise… and still get along with the people and see different people. Here at Muni Lot you see all walks of life. No judgment, just serve them and move on.”
When asked to share a story about what experience spoke to her, Sherlene said, “The important thing is there are people who are very thankful and they just say think you and smile. When I’m at the Parma Senior High School Drive-Thru Distributions, I direct traffic going out. I always wave to them. Most wave back and smile. Even the school teachers who have had a difficult day, I just say to them, ‘Hey, have a great day!’ It’s just something little to make a difference. It makes me feel awesome. That means you appreciate them, and they appreciate you and recognize you appreciate them.”
For anyone interested in volunteering with the Food Bank, Sherlene suggested to “get on and volunteer and give back. Make sure you are comfortable and just give back. Get out there serving the family or serving the community. Get a passion and do it to the best of your abilities.”
Sherlene found her passion and shared why it is so important to her every day:
“My mission in life is to make a difference.”
Written by Naomi Kall