VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION LUNCHEON
Volunteers Recognized for their Dedication to Ending Hunger Here at Home
Each year, the Westmoreland County Food Bank recognizes its core of approximately 7,000 volunteers for all of the work that they accomplish in assisting the Food Bank during a luncheon which is held in the Westmoreland County Food Bank Warehouse. In 2015, volunteers donated 98,658 hours to the Westmoreland County Food Bank (WCFB). “That is the equivalent of 48 additional staff,” said Kris Douglas, WCFB Chief Executive Officer. “That is just amazing to me and I am in awe of their generosity, which is a true example of selfless giving.”
Director of Volunteers, Louise Wilhelm welcomed volunteers and mentioned how “lucky” we are to have so many dedicated volunteers. Each year we take the time to recognize a stand out individual and group that have shown exemplary service to our neighbors in need. This year’s honorees included Joseph A. Canada, as Volunteer of the Year and the Latrobe St. Vincent DePaul as Volunteer Group of the Year.
Every once in a while, volunteers come along that just give it their all, whenever there is a need they come forward and offer their help. In 2009, Joe Canada donated his father’s conversion van to the Food Bank. He wanted to do something good with the van he inherited from his late father. He also insisted that he drive it to pick up donations. Each week, Joe drives the van to retailers in the Belle Vernon area to pick up donated product and transports it back to the warehouse. His impact on the Food Bank and those we serve doesn’t stop there. He also serves as volunteer coordinator for the Annual Empty Bowl Event, which is a fundraiser for the food bank. “I know that his dad is very proud of the work that Joe is doing to help others in the community. I bet he is just as happy to see that the old van is still running and helping to make people smile the same way it did since the first day he got it,” lamented Jennifer Miller, Director of Development and cousin of Joe.
For nine years, St. Vincent DePaul in Latrobe has provided use of their truck and volunteers to pick up and deliver food boxes to the three senior high-rise buildings in Latrobe. These volunteers were nominated by Lisa Troupe, the pantry coordinator for the Greater Latrobe Ministerial Association Pantry. She stated that, “Their impact on the community is substantial and without them and their assistance, we would not be able to deliver that food to seniors that need it.”
The keynote speaker for this year’s recognition banquet was Katherine Johnson of Westmoreland County Agency on Aging. Katherine has been employed for 35 years by the agency. She currently serves as the Administrative Officer/Deputy Director. She shared initiatives being implemented at the agency concerning seniors in the community. She expressed gratitude to all the volunteers for helping to make the community a better place to live. She mentioned that there are seniors, who are homebound and have no one they can trust to help them with getting services, such as food assistance.