Editor’s Note: Adam Alley, our amazing Senior Associate of Community Support, has taken the opportunity of December’s special focus on fighting hunger to get up close and personal with some of the hunger-related organizations that have recruited the most volunteers using VolunteerMatch.
Interview with Vivienne O’Neill, Citymeals Director of Volunteer Programs.
Adam: Why is fighting hunger important to you?
Vivienne: Fighting hunger is important to me because it’s a problem that causes such unimaginable human suffering. Over 800 million people throughout the world are hungry. Currently, it is the largest global health crisis. Hunger not only happens around the world, but also right in our own backyard.
Adam: How does your organization fight hunger?
Vivienne: Citymeals fights hunger by providing meals to frail, homebound elderly. We have a team of dedicated staff and volunteers that deliver meals and provide nourishment for our neighbors in New York City.
Adam: You’ve been particularly successful at recruiting volunteers for your cause – do you have any suggestions for fellow organizations looking to emulate your success?
Vivienne: I dedicate a lot of my success to communicating well. I let people know when I need help. You also have to be in the loop about what’s going on out there, so it’s important to focus on communicating in both directions.
Adam: How has VolunteerMatch helped you engage volunteers to fight hunger?
Vivienne: VolunteerMatch has provided referrals for volunteers that deliver meals and prevent hunger from striking New York City’s seniors.
Adam: How do you show your appreciation for your volunteers?
Vivienne: Although we have over 12,200 volunteers, we try to say thank you in a personalized way. Whether it be sending a card for their wedding anniversary or reaching out by phone to check on them when they’re under the weather, we try to stay as connected as possible to our volunteers’ lives to let them know how much we value their work.
Adam: What’s the most challenging aspect of your role? The most rewarding?
Vivienne: The most challenging aspect of my role is finding work for all of our volunteers; I hate turning them away. The most rewarding aspect of my role is seeing the impact that our volunteers have on our meal recipients and vice versa. It’s very humbling to see how everybody benefits from the work we do.
Adam: If you could give one piece of advice to a fellow organization hoping to join the fight against hunger, what would you say?
Vivienne: Roll up your sleeves and get ready to work. Fighting hunger helps build a safer and more secure world, but it’s not an easy task.