Meet Volunteer Rachel!
When you first meet Rachel, you can’t help but smile. She has a presence that is calming and kind, which are qualities that make her an incredible person, yes, but also an outstanding volunteer. Since 2019, the Neighborhood Center of South Lake (TNC) has been very fortunate to have Rachel volunteer and help our neighbors in need.
Rachel and her family are very active in their Church and community (her grandfather was Clermont visionary and philanthropist Don Wickham). At a Church group, she began helping children with special needs and met Trish Kry, CEO of the Neighborhood Center. It wasn’t too long before she began volunteering at the Center and continues to help now when her busy schedule allows.
Asked about her first impressions, Rachel shared, “I had an idea of what ‘food security’ meant, but I didn’t realize there was a place like the Neighborhood Center and the amount of food and assistance they give to so many people.” She adds, “It’s really a blessing to be a part of something so special and helping so many people in our community.”
After several months of volunteering, COVID changed everything, including pantry operations. Rachel was more determined to help and assist families as they navigated the changes in distribution and checking in from their cars. She patiently collected and confirmed information to ensure everyone received the groceries they needed to keep their family healthy and stable. She listened to many stories that greatly affected our neighbors and responded with genuine kindness and compassion.
Although recruiting was not part of her volunteer duties, Rachel convinced her dad (Keith) to volunteer, too. Like his daughter, he was greatly moved by the mission and worked tirelessly to assist wherever he could. When a position opened in Operations, Keith was hired immediately. When asked what it’s like to work with her father, Rachel shares, “My Dad is always so happy and energetic no matter how hard he works. It makes me happy to see him so happy. I’m very lucky to be able to work with him at the Center.”
The time Rachel gives to the Center now is a little less than it was when she started 4 years ago. She is currently working full-time as a Teacher’s Assistant at the Key to Learning Center and is studying for her certification as a Registered Behavior Technician. As she contemplates her future, she knows she will always make time to help others. She shares, “Volunteering is something I love doing – especially if I can help put smiles on people’s faces and give them hope.”
The Neighborhood Center of South Lake is the Heartbeat of Hope for so many. And, as we celebrate Volunteer Appreciation this month, we know there would be no heartbeat without volunteers like Rachel and the many more who help deliver our mission every day. The care and compassion our volunteers give to each and every neighbors are gifts that we treasure every day!