Employee Spotlight: Q & A with Sandra Rabourne


Meet Sandra Rabourne, the Food Bank’s Special Events Planner. Sandy is responsible for planning and managing all of the Food Bank’s fundraising events including our annual gala and our upcoming Blues Festival on September 7. The goal of our events is, of course, to raise money for our vital hunger-relief programs. The other important goal is to cultivate relationships with future donors and volunteers. Get to know Sandy and the work of the Food Bank in our Q & A interview with her. You’ll get an insider’s look into how we fundraise and why fundraising is so invaluable to our hunger-relief programs.

Q: What inspired you to work for the nonprofit sector and the Food Bank?

A: Early in my career, I worked in the publishing industry in corporate America as an executive responsible for building profits for book and magazine publishers. It was an exciting part of my life filled with travel and amazing learning experiences, but there was always a part of me that had a strong desire to work in the world of nonprofits. We all dedicate such a large part of our life to our work and I felt that I wanted to contribute to my community in a greater way and I knew volunteering on my days off from the publishing world wasn’t going to completely fill that inherent need in me. Six years ago, I committed to changing my career path and joined the nonprofit sector. I spent several years at another local nonprofit organization where I learned the business of how to successfully market and fundraise. I’ve been with the Food Bank only a short time, but my desire to join this team and support our mission to advocate for the hungry and educate the public about hunger stemmed from the fact that the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank is a local mission that represents San Diegans helping fellow San Diegans. To help people right here in my own community was extremely important to me.

Q: What does working at the Food Bank mean to you?

A: Working at the Food Bank means I get to help provide hope for the 350,000 San Diegans that we feed each month.  It means that I get to be part of solutions to hunger issues in the great City of San Diego and it means that I get to be part of an amazing community of people who share a common goal. Each morning when I walk through the parking lot to work, I watch all of the agencies lining up to get food that they will distribute to others in need. Bearing witness to that early each morning drives me to come to my desk and do the work that I do.

Q: Why are events and fundraisers so valuable to the Food Bank?

A: Events and fundraisers are a platform to convey the message about the services we provide and engage people in our mission. If you can bring people together in a fun and entertaining atmosphere, they open up to learning about what our organization does right here in our own backyard. It is a space and time for our donors, advocates, staff and volunteers to get to know one another on a deeper level and exchange ideas that will support our mission.

Q: What has been your favorite event to plan for a nonprofit (either here or at a previous organization)?

A: That is a difficult question to answer! Events all become sort of like children and I could never have a favorite. Each event has a group of dedicated and passionate people that believe in the cause it will support and selflessly give of their time. Events also each have their own unique personality and theme and so much consideration goes into the large and small details.

Q: Being the latest person to join the team, describe what your first week was like.

A: My first week was full of pure amazement. I remember going on a warehouse tour and watching the dedicated volunteers and employees work. The warehouse is this bee hive of activity and energy. I remember staring in amazement at all of the cans of food and bins of produce. It was this incredible moment of realizing how many people are involved in getting the food here and managing the process of distribution. The warehouse tour was like watching one of my favorite quotes come to life: “When you eat a piece of fruit, think about the person who planted the tree.” I encourage people to schedule a tour and learn more about what we do.

Q: What is the greatest lesson you have learned working for a nonprofit?

A: The greatest lesson I have learned from working for nonprofits is that when you give of yourself and your time you will be rewarded tenfold in how you feel inside.  There will always be suffering in life, but there will also always be hope and the ability to give back in life. When I was young, I used to think that I had to travel to third will countries to truly give back. What I’ve learned is that we can give back right in our own communities. Hunger isn’t only a third world issue.  It is an issue happening right here in sunny San Diego. Of our 3.1 million residents in San Diego County, approximately 500,000 people live at or near the federal poverty level. That means they are going without vital services such as food, health insurance and the fulfillment of basic survival needs that many of us take for granted.

Q: Why are volunteers such an important part of Food Bank events?

A: Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization. Our human capital is our greatest asset. What many people don’t know is that we only have a staff of only 40 people. Over 15,000 volunteers a year help us to fulfill our mission.  Our goal is to always make sure a volunteer is matched according to their skill set to the right job. It’s a great way to get out into the community and get real life experience. Event volunteers help us to successfully produce events and we need more help!  If someone wants to get involved, they should contact me at srabourne@sandiegofoodbank.org.

Q: What’s the next event lined up and what does it entail?

A: The Aimloan.com San Diego Blues Festival takes place of Saturday, September 7 at Embarcadero Marina Park North on the glorious San Diego Bay from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.  It is a day of music and fun all benefiting the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank.  To purchase tickets and learn more go to www.sdbluesfest.com!