Volunteers make a big difference at HOPE

MIDDLEBURY — Mary Ruth Crawford works about 20 hours a week at HOPE, sorting and pricing books that have been donated to HOPE’s resale thrift store. She’s as committed an employee as they come — except she’s not an employee, she is a volunteer. Last year, over 92,000 books passed through her hands on their way to the retail shelf in HOPE’s store. Revenues from HOPE’s store help fund local poverty relief efforts.
John Fallon clocks about the same number of hours as a weekly volunteer at HOPE’s Food Shelf. A retired grocery store manager, his expertise is a perfect fit to help manage purchasing from the Vermont Food Bank and other local stores to stock Addison County’s largest food shelf. Last year, HOPE’s food shelf provided food for more than 67,000 meals and saw an increase in usage of over 20 percent during the last half of 2016.
Crawford and Fallon and are just two of the nearly three-dozen volunteers who quietly and consistently contribute their time to HOPE all year long. On Feb. 17, HOPE hosted a volunteer appreciation event to honor these special volunteers who staff HOPE’s food shelf, sort and repair donated goods in HOPE’s thrift store, greet and assist those coming to HOPE in need, harvest and preserve surplus produce for our food shelf, manage HOPE’s seasonal Holiday Shop, and more. “Collectively, these volunteers contribute thousands of hours to HOPE every year,” remarked Jeanne Montross, HOPE’s executive director. “We consider them to be staff members, because they are here at work on a regular basis. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that they donate their time, energy and expertise to an organization and a cause they feel strongly about. We are extremely fortunate as an organization and a community to have such dedicated volunteers.”
In a festive, Valentine-themed afternoon event, volunteers and their guests came together with staff to celebrate their collective accomplishments over the past year. Steve Reigle, HOPE’s board president was impressed: “The diversity of ways that volunteers impact HOPE is truly amazing, and the enthusiasm that these individuals bring is inspiring. We simply could not accomplish what we do as an organization without these dedicated people — our community is indeed very grateful for their generosity!”
Anyone interested in learning more about seasonal, occasional or year-round volunteer opportunities should contact Lily Bradburn at (802) 388-3608.
HOPE (formerly known as the Addison County Community Action Group) is a community-based, private, nonprofit organization that provides a wide and changing array of services to more than 3,000 Addison County residents each year. For more than 50 years, HOPE has been providing vital assistance to low-income persons in our community. HOPE’s mission is to improve the lives of low-income people in Addison County, Vermont by working with individuals to identify and secure the tools and resources needed to meet their basic needs. Depending on an individual or family’s needs, HOPE can assist by providing nutritious food from our food shelf; financial payments for housing, electricity or water; heating fuel or wood; clothing, furniture and essential household goods; medical and dental payments; assistance with car repairs and job-related items for working persons; assistance for homeless persons; and more. HOPE’s charity resale store provides free or low cost items to people who cannot afford them. It also generates revenue to support HOPE’s poverty relief work, as anyone is welcome and encouraged to shop at the thrift store. HOPE is a United Way Member Agency and consistently collaborates with other local organizations to avoid duplication of services and to ensure that our limited resources are targeted most effectively to meet a client’s needs.

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