This week, the Haven celebrates National Volunteer Week (April 18-24, 2021) and we certainly have a lot to celebrate. From January-December 2020, 695 individual volunteers provided 22,895 hours of service to the community through the Upper Valley Haven!
As a nonprofit organization with limited staff, our volunteers allow us to do what we do and are often the faces that guests and visitors interact with on our campus. To serve our 13,774 Food Shelf customers in 2020, volunteers provided 14,755 hours of their time to the Food Shelf alone, helping to meet basic needs and connect community members with free, high-quality, healthy groceries. Seventy volunteers made the Haven’s annual Turkey Day (the Saturday before Thanksgiving) a huge success as a drive-through model at Hartford High School.
Volunteers range in age from middle school students to people in their late 80s; they include families, former shelter guests, retired Dartmouth College professors and teachers, farmers, and more. Plus, the Haven works with a diverse network of volunteer groups including local companies who incorporate volunteer hours into their business models, churches, schools, and private groups.
The COVID-19 pandemic threw quite a few curveballs into operations at the Haven, including the volunteer program, and yet the Upper Valley community responded to the need—268 new volunteers joined the Haven team in 2020.
Andrea Redican was one of those new volunteers. She explains, “My aunt Jane is a long-familiar face at the Haven. She pulled the two of us [Andrea and her brother, Ian] in last year when the pandemic hit, and we found ourselves with extra time and the strong desire (and fortunate ability) to help during the crisis. We love volunteering together; it has brought us closer as family, which is an unexpected bonus. We feel very good about the high quality of the food we get to distribute to the community, thanks to so many generous donors. We love our carpool time, when we discuss everything under the sun! But the best part about the Haven is the people: superb staff, devoted volunteers, and we can’t wait to get back under the tent to greet clients again face-to-face!”
Thank you to all our volunteers who make the Haven a livelier, healthier, and more vibrant community center. As Kerri Weeks, Volunteer Services Coordinator, says, “We are so fortunate to know and work with such wonderful volunteers. They make our organization and our community stronger in so many ways.”