During the academic year, Leah works with high school students to help them find extracurricular activities or community service programs to get involved with, and she had been recommending The Open Door to her students for a while before she decided to get involved herself.
“Around March of 2020, I thought I was going to be teaching and working online, so I was going to have a ton of availability. That wasn’t the case at all, so I waited until June 10 before I started helping and I dabbled in different activities to figure out what I really enjoyed,” Leah said.
Her favorite part about the Mobile Lunchbox program is moving around to multiple neighborhoods and spending time outdoors. While Leah started volunteering outside the pantry because of concerns with getting sick, she has continued doing Mobile Lunchbox to spend time with family, friends, and co-workers, who she always enjoys signing up for shifts with.
Aside from getting to spend time outside, Leah is motivated by the knowledge that everyone who comes to the Mobile Lunchbox will receive something they need.
“The Open Door, for the most part, provides food with no questions asked. At least in the role that I’m in, we can just give food to anybody who’s there, and I know it’s helping,” Leah said.
She always advocates for clients and does her best to meet their needs whenever she can. When she gets to know clients and their preferences, she always tries to make sure they have their favorite foods available for distribution.
“You get to know a little bit about people, and I just want to bring humanity to it and make them feel very comfortable with coming in,” Leah said.
If Leah could change one thing about The Open Door, it would be the biweekly Friday lunches from Subway because she has noticed that the small sizes of the sandwiches are not enough food compared to the full lunches that are distributed on other days of the week. She wishes she could give every client a full meal of their favorite foods whenever they come to The Open Door.
Because she enjoys making people happy and connecting with them, Leah’s favorite volunteer memory is the week they provided culture-specific groceries.
“Even the little kids who I’ve given something like flour, which doesn’t seem very exciting compared to the time we had things like pudding, they were equally excited and then came back the next day asking for more,” Leah said.
Leah is most proud of the connections she has made during her year as a volunteer with Mobile Lunchbox and how she has helped de-stigmatize the process of getting food to those who need it.