Together in Gratitude: ICS Honors Volunteers At ICS, we love and appreciate volunteers! Each person generously gives their time and talents to be a help to someone else. In a variety of ways, volunteers provide hope to the hurting. Together, our accomplishments are significant! Volunteers were especially appreciated at the annual Volunteer Appreciation event on Friday, April 29th, hosted at Summit Ridge Community Church. Several ICS volunteers spoke about what moved them to volunteer and how their experiences are exceptionally rewarding. We were riveted by stories reminding us of why we do what we do and the impact of our service. This Volunteer Recognition Newsletter is a special edition of that beautiful event and highlights those that spoke as well as other special volunteers making a difference.
Northwest Food Bank Tom volunteers 3 mornings a week during the 5:30am shift at the Northwest Food Bank. Each week, he picks up rescue bread at two locations and brings it to ICS Food Bank and then helps with the morning set-up, serves as a loader of client cars until 11am, and will even make trips to grocery stores to pick up rescue food. Overall, his volunteer time totals 50+ hours a month. He is known for his friendly and cooperative attitude.
“It gives me great joy and pleasure volunteering and knowing I can make a difference at ICS, where each client and/or family is treated with respect and dignity.” - Tom Follett
Jim & Myla McGuire
Front Desk & Self-Sufficiency
Jim and Myla are a husband-and-wife duo who have been volunteering with Mobile Meals together for several years. They first signed up on October 2, 2002 which means they will soon be celebrating their 20-year anniversary with ICS. Jim says, “My wife and I have the philosophy that if you enjoy what you are doing, you will not have to work a day in your life. That is what this is. We enjoy what we are doing and do not consider it work.” The couple moved to Tucson after retirement and were looking for ways to become involved in their community. At the time, they attended St. Marks and read through a bulletin that showed ICS was recruiting volunteers. “We were new to the community, and it gave us something to do that was fulfilling and rewarding,” says Jim. At first, they felt apprehensive to deliver meals to some of the neighborhoods, go into houses, and see how people lived. But they realized that by delivering meals, they were helping to improve the quality of life of their patrons. Myla says, “I remember thinking that we were the only people they were going to see all day long. It took us a long time to get through routes because everyone would want to talk. I can’t recall how many times people would say, ‘If it wasn’t for this, I wouldn’t be able to live in my home’.” Over the years, Jim and Myla have developed friendly relationships with some of their regular recipients who look forward to their weekly visits. One such client was 90-year-old Tex. Because he was the last
person on their Thursday route, the pair would end their shift and then stay and play dominoes with him. It’s not all fun and games, however. Sometimes, Jim and Myla have seen people living in difficult situations. They take these moments as opportunities to tell recipients about other services offered by ICS or to think about other small ways to be of service. For example, they had one recipient who was elderly and bed ridden. Each week, along with her meal delivery, they would bring her magazines and newspapers and she was appreciative for access to the outside world through her readings. “The smiles and thankfulness, it’s another reason we come back,” Myla says. “A lot of people think that volunteering is a job. I do not think of it as a job. It’s something you want to do that you’re fulfilled by doing it. It’s not a job, it’s a joy.” They understand that there is a huge need for support in the community and appreciate that ICS makes it easy to volunteer and give back in meaningful ways. As Jim puts it, “In serving others, you also serve God and what could be more exciting than that?”
“It is not easy to ask for help. It’s not easy to come to the Food Bank and say, ‘I don’t have enough food for the month,’ or to call and say, ‘I can’t drive myself to the doctor or to the grocery, I need a ride.’” It’s not easy to call in for Financial Assistance and say “I can’t pay my rent,” or to walk up to the front desk and say, “I need help.” But when we wrap a culture of care around the people who come to us for assistance we make that hard thing just a little bit easier.
Brook is a volunteer at the Front Desk and serves as a Self-Sufficiency Coach for Single Mom Scholars. She goes above and beyond as a volunteer by expertly supporting the front desk operations with whatever is needed for two full 8-hour days plus additional time as needed. She supports self-sufficiency programs by coaching several Single Mom Scholars and she started the “Community of Practice”- a group of Allies at ICS that can come together to share their experiences and challenges as they work with their Scholars. ICS appreciates her valued wisdom and her willingness to lend a hand. She is always asking, “What else can I do?” Brook has truly proven to be a leader and driver of community change.
And so I am very proud to be part of this organization, to serve alongside a group of volunteers like all of you, who every day, in every little way are showing people we really care”
- Brook Gilliam
RECOGNITION Mitzi Walker
Christine “Chris” Hardyman
Eastside Office & Mobile Food Bank
Northwest Food Bank
Christine “Chris” Hardyman volunteers at the Northwest Food Bank on Ina Road. She got started in this role about two years ago after she read an ad in the newspaper calling for volunteers. On her first shift, Chris remembers being surprised by the scope of the operation. She explains, “I don’t know what I was expecting exactly but it’s not as simple as I thought it would be. I’m amazed at the number of people that the food bank helps.” She also remembers being tired from the physical labor, but she enjoyed it so much that she’s been returning ever since. Chris explains that volunteering at the food bank
gives her a purpose to help people. “I like being part of that,” she says. “I feel lucky to have found this position where you get all of that out of it – friendships and a social aspect, and it makes me feel grateful for what I have.” As a volunteer runner, Chris goes out to individual vehicles to collect people’s information and often starts up a conversation with them. She has gotten to know many of the food bank patrons this way and notes how extremely grateful they are for the help they receive. All kinds of people visit the food bank for support – veterans, seniors, large
Mitzi is a long-time volunteer at the east office of ICS. She has volunteered in almost every available position at the food bank and currently travels with the Eastside Mobile Food Bank Truck to perform client intake. Mitzi is always cheerful and upbeat. She is known for her punctuality, diligence, and great enthusiasm. families, those with disabilities – and Chris often has the privilege of hearing their stories and making them feel welcome and seen. She recalls making a connection with one woman who was a regular and had dietary restrictions. She hadn’t visited the food bank in a while and Chris was worried about her. When she finally did return, Chris was so relieved, and they gave each other a big hug. “It’s special,” Chris says of her time volunteering. “I get a lot out of it. You work your buns off, but you get more than you give.”
“The response to the mobile food bank has been nearly overwhelming! It is not unusual for us to serve 60- 70 families in a two hour period, and the need keeps growing! We often run out of food, especially DOG and CAT food. (I think everyone in Tucson adopted a dog during the pandemic.) We could use more donations...Let us know if you’d like to help with this essential service!” - Mitzi Walker
To learn more or volunteer: icstucson.org/volunteer or call 520-526-9308
Transportation then have the opportunity to take care of their important errands and appointments.
In Home Evaluations Robert conducts In Home Evaluations for his volunteer service. He truly goes the distance in assisting countless participants in need of services, and acts as a model for new volunteers in training. He expresses deep passion and empathy for all participants and has a strong desire to provide resources even if it’s a resource independent of ICS. Robert is known for his selflessness and asking his favorite question:
“How can I do more?” Brian Fitzgerald, Andy Fiore, & Tim Powell Home Sweet Home - Handy Helpers
Brian Fitzgerald, Andy Fiore, and Tim Powell volunteer as Handy Helpers and they are known as the “Three Musketeers.” Together they have a combined experience with the Home Sweet Home program of over 20 years. The team serves many clients with minor home repair projects and have been instrumental in the maintenance of the ICS facilities. These proficient workers have been an enormous help to the ICS participants and organization as a whole.
“The rewarding aspect of this service is the long duration of interaction with our clients.” - Andy Fiore
Fred Dardis has been a transportation volunteer for almost a year. As a native Tucsonan, Fred has had the chance to volunteer for several different organizations and enjoys giving his time to a worthy cause. He read about the need for drivers at ICS and thought it would be a straightforward role that he could easily add to his service. However, he quickly learned that there was more to this role than he thought. “Our service as drivers is more than taking people from point A to point B,” he says. “There is a poverty of isolation which I have never seen or experienced before. When I pick up my passenger, it’s one of the few times they get out of the house and can go somewhere.” Fred now understands the limitations imposed upon those who lack reliable transportation, not to mention the impact it can have on their wellbeing. One of his passengers explained it to him this way, “Fred, if you have a car, you can. If you don’t, you can’t.” When he picks up passengers, their attitude is one of gratitude and, often, relief because they
For Fred, each passenger is unique, and he has been moved by many of them. He thinks back fondly to the woman who wanted to stop at Taco Bell on their way back to her house. It was a simple stop. Fred pulled in, ordered the tacos and that was that. He hadn’t realized the simple joy it would bring this woman to be able to purchase a cheese burrito for her dog, Baby. Others that come to mind are the famous painter who is going blind and the courageous cancer patient that he drives to the doctor’s office. He appreciates hearing their stories and being a part of their lives in this way. Each ride as an opportunity to help someone become less isolated in their daily life and give people a listening ear. While most of his riders are quick to show their appreciation, Fred doesn’t do this role for the recognition. “A simple thank you is enough,” he says. Rather, he is motivated to continue in transportation because he wants to do what he can to help others in need while he is still capable. “If not me, then who?” he asks. “There’s such a huge need in our community for volunteers. I’ve been booked for 5 or 6 rides already this month… I know we [as a community] need to do this.”
Food Bank & Childcare Provider
Transportation & Mobile Meals “The stories [the participants] tell, if we are willing to listen, are amazing and it is very rewarding though not always without some challenges. It is something I will continue to do for so long as I can.” - Pete Garcia
Allan Cooley volunteers at the Food Bank once a week on Tuesdays along with his wife Marianne and is a regular Childcare Provider for the Single Mom Scholars. Allan has always wanted to work with children. When he was younger, he wanted to be an elementary school teacher but with the onset of the Vietnam War, he found himself enlisted in the Navy. He’d have to wait until his retirement to circle back to his original plan. Once he retired, he began searching for opportunities to work with youth and give back to his community. He found Single Mom Scholars by perusing the ICS website and was immediately impressed by the program that supports single mothers who are earning their college degrees. They have monthly meetings in person and Allan, along with other childcare volunteers, watches their children for an hour while they attend the meetings.
Pete Garcia has been volunteering for over a year as a Transportation driver and Mobile Meals substitute. One of the hallmarks of Pete’s service is that he gives the office staff feedback after each ride or route which helps the staff have the most updated information on the
Pete reliably takes on a tremendous number of rides including responding to last minute calls for rides and substitute routes as needed. His willingness to serve and the care he shows for each participant is very much appreciated.
He can appreciate that each of the Scholars are trying to juggle multiple things while also going to school and wants to support them any way he can.
Self-Sufficiency Ally Steve Witthoeft is a Self-Sufficiency Ally with extensive mentoring experience. He truly values the Single Mom Scholar (SMS) relationship, viewing it as mutually valuable and insightful.
“My daughter is a single mom,” he explains. “Her husband died while she was pregnant. While she has a college degree and a great job, it’s still hard for her. And these women are trying to better themselves. It’s a win-win. I get to support a great program and I get to work with kids.”
Over the years, he has been a consistent and reliable contributor of SMS trainings and was instrumental in putting together a presentation for Scholars to better understand how to use coaching in their everyday lives.
Allan has been meeting with the kids for a little over a year and has enjoyed every minute.
“These amazing women not only have to raise children, earn a living, and study to better themselves, but in many instances have no one to talk to about their situation. The coaching program allows them to explore “what ifs” with a trusted coach and confidant so that they can discover their true potential. I have to say that in my coaching experience I learn as much from the people I coach as I hope they learn from our honest and open conversations.” - Steve Witthoeft
“It’s been great,” he says. “You show up and you never know who you’re going to meet – a 2-year-old or a couple of teenagers, so you got to role with the punches. I never thought after my last granddaughter got out of the toddler phase that I’d be on the floor with a 2–3-year-old. At 74 years old, it’s not easy to get down on the floor, but it’s fun. I love it.”
participants so that we can better serve them.
2022 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award John Yost is this year’s recipient of the 2022 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award for an AmeriCorps member which he received on Monday, May 2nd at the Governor’s office. Each week, John delivers food for two Mobile Meals routes and picks up pet food donated from Cody’s Friends. He has personally ferried more than 26,000 pounds of pet food to the Food Bank for pet owners to feed their pets. In addition to his volunteer work, John serves on the AmeriCorps Seniors Task Force and provided leadership for MLK Day of Service and 911 Day of Service events. During the pandemic, John organized twice weekly collections from his faith community, St. Marks UMC, resulting in over 40,000 pounds of food donated, which topped the list of Faith Community donations. With the help of John’s efforts, St. Mark’s donated 1,851 jars of peanut butter for the 2021 Peanut Butter Challenge which was the greatest single source donation. We are proud and grateful to honor John for his dedication and service to his community.
Want to learn more about volunteering with ICS and what other roles we have available? Attend one of our online Volunteer Orientations!
To learn more or volunteer: icstucson.org/volunteer or call 520-526-9308
Dates & times can be found: icstucson.org/events