This month’s volunteer spotlight is on Emily Lopez who started volunteering in the summer of 2016. Emily, going into her senior year of high school, is one of our younger volunteers who shows maturity beyond her years as she interacts with HCC guests with ultimate care and compassion! Emily has worked in every area of HCC. She has shopped with guests for food and clothing and has run the lobby. When we asked Emily what her favorite thing about volunteering at the HCC is, she answered, “It is definitely the atmosphere. There is a feeling of serenity and generosity within every corner of the building. You can never feel out of place, and every person who works/volunteers radiates a lovely aura of friendliness.”
Emily truly has a servant’s heart, as she not only volunteers her time at HCC she also is a regular volunteer at Mom’s Pantry, St. Mary’s Food Bank and the Phoenix Art Museum. Emily is constantly volunteering because of one important lesson her mother taught her, “Always remember that life is a cycle, while I may be at the top of the world one day I need to remind myself that someone else could be experiencing their worst day, and we’re there to serve on those days.”
Besides volunteering in her local community Emily loves her family and dog, reading and playing the violin. Her goal is to become a Supreme Court judge and continue to give to those who need help getting back on their feet.
All of us at HCC know Emily will do amazing things in the future to impact her community, state and country! Thank you, Emily, for showing us all how to be a light to our community!
Meet our dear friend and Harvest Compassion Center volunteer Walt.
Walt, originally from Crystal Lake, Illinois, has been serving at the Harvest Compassion Center Phoenix over 5 years and literally jumps in to help wherever he is needed. After retiring and moving to Phoenix in 2008 to enjoy all the Valley’s outdoor living and recreation, our paths crossed. On Walt’s first day walking into the HCC to volunteer we knew he was a hard worker and a team player. Walt can be seen weekly cleaning and tagging shoe donations, the next day he’s mopping the floors before our morning shift; he also can be regularly seen helping unload our delivery van and stocking the shelves with food. There’s a massive amount of work that goes into prepping the Harvest Compassion Center for guests weekly. Walt is always enthusiastic to help ‘behind the scenes,’ or as he stated, “It’s like the lower level of the Titanic, we work hard in the back and have a lot of fun!” Walt surely isn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty and all of us at Harvest Compassion Center are so thankful for his giving spirit and attitude.
Walt encourages others to join the volunteer crew at the HCC saying, “Please come serve with us, it fulfills your heart and soul. It’s fun and rewarding and you meet great people.” Walt has told others many times that his life has been changed by volunteering at the HCC. Volunteering keeps him in the Lord’s spirit and he knows it’s honoring to Him. Walt truly lives and breathes all things HCC, he’s an all-in type of guy, who is a blessing to the HCC’s outreach and guests.
Thank you again Walt for the thousands of hours you’ve served and most of all for the compassion you demonstrate daily!
This month the HCC Phoenix would like to show our appreciation to Laura Mancuso who has been volunteering at the center for close to 2 years. Laura, a busy wife, mom, and business owner of Bicycles of Phoenix, has sacrificially donated her time to serve her neighbors at the HCC monthly. Laura has literally done it all! She’s been a food shopper, a clothing shopper, helped with our Backpack and Christmas Outreach drives, served at our Open Houses giving tours, and been floor manager during shifts, as well as, ran the computer for guest check-in. Laura is an all-in, team player, someone who stays busy from opening to closing!
“My favorite part of volunteering at the HCC is the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone serving HCC guests, also the amazing camaraderie and friendships I’ve made while serving is something I treasure!” replied Laura.
Laura in all honestly was hesitant to begin volunteering at first, however, when she searched the Bible she was reminded how Christ laid down his own life for us, she knew the importance of serving others must be a priority in her life and not something she would eventually get around to. Laura went on to say, “We are blessed to be living in this generation, residing in beautiful Arizona, a place where we can worship freely without the risk of torture or death for being a Christian. True, most of us are not at risk of being burned at the stake, stoned, being fed to the lions, or hung on a cross. However, to many of us, the idea of sacrificing our TIME, which, if you are like me, is my most precious commodity, sounds a bit like torture. In fact, for many of us, if asked if we’d prefer to give of our time and energy or be fed to the lions, our first question might be, “How big is the lion?” Ephesians 5:8-16 “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” When we wake up from our old, tired ways and rise to the calling of Christ, suddenly our world, and the world of those around us shines bright! People start noticing a change in you, and when you tell them that you are serving at the Compassion Center or in any capacity, Christ’s love is being reflected.”
Laura has truly exemplified the true meaning of servanthood and she has been rewarded with new, wonderful friends who she now shares a common bond with. She found the HCC Phoenix, a place where she can truly make a difference, something she never knew she was missing until she said yes!
“I am truly blessed by the stories and smiles that are exchanged each time I volunteer my time at the HCC,” added Laura.
Meet Carol Augustine, who has been volunteering at the Harvest Compassion Center Phoenix for the past three years. Carol started out serving our guests in our clothing boutique; today she works the front desk checking guests in. Carol’s heart has always been drawn to serving her local community; from the moment she heard about the HCC’s outreach in the Valley she couldn’t wait to get started!
Being bilingual Carol is a huge blessing to our Spanish speaking guests who make up 45% of our overall client base. Carol counts it a privilege for the opportunity to truly get to know each guest who walks in the HCC doors. She is encouraged as guests share with her their personal struggles and hardships, as well as, their thankfulness for the HCC.
When Carol was asked how her life has changed by volunteering at the HCC she replied, “To be able to pray and share the Lord’s love to the broken, mentally ill, addicted, homeless or even just everyday people, is just beyond words. Remembering why this charity was started, the legacy that Mitch has left, and the commitment to carry that out tirelessly, motivates me to keep a healthy perspective on what is really important in life.”
Carol also raves about the other faithful HCC volunteers who serve sacrificially week in and week out, proving the mission of Harvest Compassion Center is truly a team effort! Today we thank Carol for her faithful service to the HCC. Volunteers like Carol are the reason the HCC can open its’ doors and serve 500 plus families a month.
The Harvest Compassion Center is only able to fully operate weekly because of the generous volunteers who donate their time serving their community. One of the HCC’s most faithful volunteers is Yadira Davis, whose servant’s heart shines every time she walks into the HCC.
Yadira, a Phoenix transplant from Chicago, got involved with the HCC almost two years ago. She was praying for a place that she would be able to serve and use her talents, and the Lord led her to the HCC. Yadira, being bilingual, is a huge asset to the Hispanic community in the Valley, which helps each shift she works run smoothly. At first, Yadira admits to being slightly overwhelmed by the need in the community for a place like the HCC. The HCC is located in a middle-to-upper class area of Phoenix which places it in a stereotype that those living in that area are not hungry. Yadira found the opposite to be true, it doesn’t matter where you live; the need for assistance is great.
After volunteering Yadira was surprised to find how much fun it was to serve at the HCC and what a blessing and honor it is to hear people’s needs, praying over those needs and then later hearing how God answered those prayers. “I’m blessed by this regular reminder of God’s faithful grace and love for us as well as the reminder of the power of praying with and for others,” said Yadira. Yadira’s favorite part of serving in the HCC is seeing people moved by prayer, seeing other’s willingness to serve those in need which spurs her on to continue serving. She’s blown away how one bag of food can make such a big difference to a family! Families received food and clothing from us, but then we see these same families come back again this time not as guests, but as volunteers to serve others out of the gratitude for the help they once received.
As the HCC continues to grow and serve the community in the Phoenix area, Yadira asks that you prayerfully consider giving some of your time or financial resources to reach the needs of your neighbors. “I love to work at the HCC because it gives me the opportunity to serve the needy out of obedience of the Lord. Matthew 25:25, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Yadira commented. “I see God softening hearts here at the HCC, what a joy to be a part of that!”
All of us at MSC and the HCC thank Yadira for her hours of service, for always being a faithful, reliable volunteer who we can count on every time she’s asked. Her servanthood is an example for others!
Meet local Phoenix realtor, AJ Sherant with First Page Homes serving North Phoenix. An entrepreneur at heart, AJ has been using his outstanding customer service skills to help others find the perfect match when it comes to house hunting. As AJ stays busy with Arizona’s housing market, he also realized there’s more than just serving his customers; he felt the urge to serve his local community as well.
AJ walked into the Harvest Compassion Center about 3 months ago during one of our busy shifts. After realizing that he wasn’t there to be served, he asked, “What is this place?” We spent the next 20 minutes showing AJ around the center, as well as informing him of what takes place daily at the HCC. AJ was blown away by the HCC’s response to fight hunger within his own community, and immediately knew he had to join the crusade in some way! What resulted was AJ organizing his own neighborhood food drive.
AJ told us that he had always been aware that Arizona was one of the national leaders in food insecurity; however, he wasn’t exactly sure how he could help personally. His inspiration came from one of his fellow brokers during a team meeting, as they were brainstorming different ideas of how to make it easy to donate; AJ said the ‘light bulb moment’ happen! He knew that if he made donating food super simple and convenient he could do his part in helping combat the hunger crisis. AJ not only walked door to door passing out HCC flyers and bags asking for food donations, he produced a short video which he posted online to help raise awareness of Arizona’s growing hunger problem! When I asked AJ why he felt led to assist the HCC he mentioned that after touring the HCC he loved the way our center is set up. It’s a store where families are allowed to ‘shop’ for the things they need all for free, with nothing being pre-packed or boxed. The HCC’s location is also close to where AJ resides and he knew the local community should be helping their local food bank! “Once I met the volunteer staff and saw how much they genuinely care and wanted to help make the community a better place, I was blown away and soon realized they were more than just a food bank. It was clear to me that they ran an amazing operation that I am sure Mitchell would be proud of,” commented AJ.
AJ definitely has gone above and beyond setting high goals that were successfully met by donating over 500 pounds of food to the HCC over the past month. “It was really cool to see all the donation bags in one pile, I also learned that organizing a food drive like this was actually much easier than I anticipated. The Fry’s on 32nd street was awesome providing bags and our community response was amazing!” stated AJ.
Just think what can be accomplished when we all have the focus and drive like AJ. All of us at the HCC send a huge thank you to AJ, those who helped him collect and deliver bags of food and his generous heart to helping secure that those in his own backyard don’t go hungry!