Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

Volunteers of America Recognizes IFCS Volunteer – Pat Chavez

Our friends over at Volunteers of America – Colorado Branch, recently recognized our volunteer Pat Chavez for her work in our food bank. We are reposting this story with their permission.

“With no prior experience, nor apprehensions about serving the community, Pat Chavez followed her desire to volunteer at the Integrated Family Community Services (IFCS) food bank. It is a job that is often physically demanding, as she lifts half cases of canned goods and stocks shelves.  It is also a job that requires attention to detail, as she sorts through donations, selecting only the freshest items, and a time for bagging up baked goods from Panera Bread.  Two years in, Pat is still enthusiastically involved, noting that, “Everyday is an enjoyable day.”  It is not only a time to serve, but a time to share some laughter with the team. But Pat is well aware that subject of hunger is no laughing matter as its icy consequences permeate through the lives of those who cannot afford to adequately feed themselves, and those in their care.

“Some clients are timid at first”, says Pat who responds by making clients feel at ease and welcomed.  “Hi.  Come on in.  Have you been here before?  Don’t feel bad; we’re here to help you.”  Casual and friendly conversation help to build a comfort level which Pat attributes to the people skills she acquired while working as a Surgical Assistant for 25 years.  Pat also finds that she is able to bridge language barriers with her limited Spanish, and delights in having the opportunity to work with a diverse group of guests, some of whom are single moms living in motel rooms with their children.

IFCS’s food bank is a food bank of choice, giving clients the opportunity of shopping for specific items themselves. “There is plenty on the shelves”, says Pat who is available to assist clients in finding what they’re looking for.  During the summer, fresh food is generously donated by Hudson Gardens, and some of the most requested shelved items are cereal, peanut butter and hearty oatmeal, which is particularly popular during the cold weather months. And last but not least, every child present is given a yummy cookie!

A quote attributed to actor Jeff Bridges states that, “One of the greatest feelings in the world is knowing that we as individuals can make a difference.  Ending hunger is literally within our grasp.”  With this reality at hand, Pat sums up her personal role at the end of the day with a gracious reflection, “I’ve helped”.

Perspective has the power to turn perceived obstacles into stepping stones of hope.  Before volunteering, the word food bank ushered the imagery of, “people in need with hungry kids”, to Pat’s mind.  But now, that same word, introduces a new insight, “It’s not a hand out, but a hand up.”

Thank you Pat, for all that you have accomplished and continue to do to honor those who seek to escape the shadows of hunger.”

Tim Esterdahl

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