Hugs and Handshakes: Volunteer Uses Corporate Experience to Give Back
Terri Silverstone began volunteering at Lakeview Pantry in 2012 when she retired from the corporate world. “I mentioned to a friend that I was looking for weekday volunteer opportunities; she told me about the Pantry,” Terri explains.
Since that time Terri has done nearly every job a Lakeview Pantry volunteer can do: “I’ve been a counter re-stocker, donation un-loader and a cardboard box destroyer,” she says. “I’ve been a Counter #1 and #2 distributor of foods to clients … I’ve worked in the basement sorting through tons of body and beauty goods, worked on mailings and manned the clothing room.”
Terri says being a part of the community at the Pantry has been particularly rewarding – from getting to know volunteers and clients, to learning about new foods and taking part in workshops and events.
But in addition to all of the day-to-day duties at the Pantry, Terri has found a special way to put her corporate experience to use helping Lakeview Pantry’s clients not only obtain the food they need but also work toward independence.
“At many of my corporate positions, I was part of the interview team for new hires,” she says. “I approached Jennie [Lakeview Pantry’s Manager of Client Services who helps clients with their job searches] and said, ‘If you need help, I used to interview, and I can tell you what people look for’.”
Jennie quickly took Terri up on her offer. Terri has taught four job search and employment skills workshops at the Pantry, and worked one-on-one with clients to build their résumés and practice interviewing techniques.
She makes sure everyone she works with feels inspired to continue their job search, sometimes spending hours working with a client. “We talk about the best wording and format their résumé needs to get them an interview,” she says. “We may also talk about branding…plus the importance of not only listing the client’s past job duties and responsibilities, but the need to highlight accomplishments and successes they achieved.”
Terri’s one-on-one sessions not only make clients feel encouraged in their job searches; they are getting results. Two people with whom Terri worked recently have landed jobs, and others have been called back for interviews after their résumé tutorial sessions.
“People are anxious to better themselves,” Terri says. “I give out my e-mail address to everyone I work with. I send them encouragement and reminders of important interviewing tips.”
And what does Terri get in return for her help? “I’ve had lots of happy hugs and handshakes,” she shares. “When you think of the Pantry, you usually just think of food, but to be able to tell people we help in so many other ways is really heartwarming.”
To learn more about ways you can get involved at the pantry, visit our volunteer opportunities page.