National Volunteer Week in the United States, celebrated April 16-22 this year, shone a light on the impactful ways volunteers show up to support those in their community who may be facing myriad challenges, such as regular access to safe and nutritious food needed for an active and healthy lifestyle.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an estimated 33.8 million people across the U.S. are food insecure. In nine states, including Kentucky, which is home to AdventHealth Manchester, the rate of food insecurity is above the national average of 10.4 percent.
“Volunteering is important to our mission because it allows us the opportunity to meet the communities we serve where they are.”
For the team at AdventHealth Manchester, taking action to address this key challenge is about more than just improving the statistic: It’s another way they’re contributing to an over 50-year legacy of providing healing and wholeness to the facility’s surrounding communities.
In partnership with the Manchester Seventh-day Adventist Church, AdventHealth Manchester leaders and team members volunteer at the Adventist Community Services food pantry to serve over 600 families every month. Volunteer tasks include sorting, boxing, and distributing a variety of food items.
“This help gets us through every day,” Jamie Hacker, one of the community members who utilizes the pantry on a regular basis, said.
Tom Kyser, pastor at the Manchester Seventh-day Adventist Church, said the volunteering efforts of the AdventHealth Manchester team have been pivotal to the food pantry’s operations. “Finding volunteers for our pantry has been the single most difficult thing in running this ministry,” Kyser said. “Every volunteer who comes from AdventHealth is super helpful. They come with a smile on their face and are willing to do any task.”
Marlon Robinson, director of pastoral care at AdventHealth Manchester, has been closely involved with coordinating volunteers for this important cause. He also spends a lot of time volunteering at the pantry. “I want to make a lasting difference in this world for Christ,” Robinson said. “I've interacted with team members who appreciate the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in our community.”
Graham Allen, director of business development and operations at AdventHealth Manchester, said, “I find volunteering to be rewarding and an opportunity to reset my spirits. Volunteering is important to our mission because it allows us the opportunity to meet the communities we serve where they are. Serving others is a key reason many of us continue to work in health care.”
In ensuring that hundreds of families never have to see their food run out, the AdventHealth Manchester team continues to play a significant role in helping their communities feel whole.