Santa Clara University

Room number: 52

Helping get families back on their feet

Lauren Fendel '10

After graduating last year and looking for a full time job, Lauren decided the best way to spend her days in the meantime was volunteering. She chose West Valley Community Services because of its mission of providing for low income families/individuals and homeless to stabilize their situation and get them back on their feet.

She met with the Executive Director and learned that WVCS was comprised of 10 full-time staff, the rest (280 per month) were volunteers. After hearing this fact about the community, she was motivated to sign up. In the food pantry, Lauren works with clients to satiate their food preferences and nutritional needs.

On a typical afternoon, her group will help up to 50 clients and provide enough food to last their families throughout the week. Of course, there are many components that come together to make the pantry an efficient experience- the most important of which are volunteer gleaners. Gleaners are volunteers who, at the beginning and end of each day, borrow vans from WVCS to pick up donated food from various grocery stores and bring it back to the pantry so that volunteers can sort it for quality and organize it so that clients may do their own shopping rather than be given a predetermined selection. At the end of the day, the volunteers close up shop, cleaning the carts, floors and organizing leftovers so that the next volunteer crew in the morning will have an easy start to the day.  

Lauren feels that “No matter what your personal interest in volunteering, there are many local opportunities to give back. Whether gleaning, assisting clients, helping with administrative duties or teaching a class of your specialty- everyone has something to offer- and every little bit counts.”