Harvest Food Bank (San Jose)

A volunteering interview by: Alexander Randolph

While working at the Second Harvest Food Bank in San Jose, California from 2010 to 2012 Meghan Zukin had the unique enough experience to be in charge of many things. First, in her first couple months she entered as a “sorter” for the Second Harvest warehouse, the Curtner Center (750 Curtner Ave, San Jose). This opportunity required that she both bring in the assorted donated goods and then sort them by category. This required a lot of patience from Meghan because at first she thought that, “you do not get the opportunity to actually see the people you are helping”. However, after working for a while she was asked to help set up for and then eventually distribute the food. Meg’s favorite part of working at this level was the “Family Harvest” branch which “provides food and educational programs to low-income families with minor children”. After about a year of working as a sorter Meghan was offered the position of team leader for warehouse sorting. Team Leaders are our ambassadors and provide orientation and manage food sorting projects during evening and weekend food sorting shifts. Meghan was trained on many general Food Bank facts, such as how to lead a food sorting project, how to use a pallet jack and, most importantly, about general warehouse safety. In this position, Meghan was able to organize and motivate people for food sorting operations.

The Inspiration

Meghan Zukin volunteered at Second Harvest Food Bank in San Jose, California because she wanted to “step outside of the bubble that is my hometown and help others in my not so immediate community”. Essentially, Meghan says that although she has lived a privileged she wanted to see what it was like to give back and help others that are less fortunate. Also, she wanted to meet and then further associate herself with people who are also trying to aid people other than themselves. Another key inspiration of Meghan’s was that she had never volunteered before and she decided that she wanted to motivate her current friends to give back to the community. “I correctly thought that if I wanted to be a part of the solution, at least some of my friends would follow my example”. This statement help true when a couple of her friends (including myself) volunteered our time at a few food sorting and distribution functions. Meghan’s final motivation for volunteering at Second Harvest was that She wanted to witness first hand and experience the real life scenarios of the less fortunate than she was. She believes that this has allowed her to be truly grateful for all that she has worked for over the past couple years and appreciate success and strive for it. Meghan says that she would not trade the experiences that she has had and the friendships she has fostered during her time volunteering for anything.

The Aha! moment…

While volunteering for Second Harvest Food Bank in San Jose, California, Meghan Zukin learned “countless” invaluable things that will benefit her in her immediate and long term future. The first one is how to put aside your own personal time in order to to something to benefit others who are less fortunate than yourself. This is key because it helps you to feel better about yourself and your community. The second thing that she has learned from her time spent volunteering is how to motivate and organize a group of volunteers to work efficiently for a collective goals. This has come from her time spent as a group leader organizing the sorting activities. A third thing that Meghan has learned from her time is how to sort and organize separate items of food in the warehouse. Another thing that she has learned is how to lead by example. This can be shown when she motivated her many friends to volunteer their time as well. It can also be seen when Meghan had to organize workers around the warehouse. The final thing that Meghan learned was how truly good and gratifying that she felt after volunteering her time for others. This is the most important thing, says Meghan, because it allows you to let go of your problems and other things that are not as important as the work you are currently doing to help people with far more serious issues. “It really gives you perpective of what is important”.

To summarize it in three words…

Meaningful, Gratifying, Unique

Why should you do this

Meghan definitely recommends volunteering your time in the way that she is. This is because it allowed her the gratifying thing that you can do with your time.

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