Meet Xavier Hernandez, the Food Bank’s Volunteer Coordinator. Xavier is one of three project coordinators here at Food Bank warehouse. He sets up projects for volunteers, gives them a quick (but in depth) explanation of the project and provides project support. Xavier is also the project coordinator in charge of volunteer scheduling working with all of our volunteer groups (corporate, faith-based, youth, military, etc.) in setting up dates and shifts for them to come out and help. Get to know Xavier and the work of the Food Bank in our Q & A interview with him. You’ll get an insider’s look into the world of volunteering and why our volunteers are the glue that hold everything together.
Q: What inspired you to work for the nonprofit sector and the Food Bank?
A: I’ve always been inspired to work for nonprofits and I just got lucky in getting this job. It’s always been an interest of mine to help people.
Q: What does working at the Food Bank mean to you?
A: It means I have a job where I feel good when I get up in the morning and I feel good when I go to sleep, where every day I’m helping hundreds (if not thousands) of people at work.
Q: Do you have any stories of volunteers who made you realize you are in the right career field?
A: I think my experience in general with volunteers has given me that reaffirmation of “I’m in the right place.” There are people like our volunteer, Paul, who is retired and he comes about two to three times per week to help out. Everyone knows him now, because he’s such a great volunteer. Just building that rapport and relationships with different volunteers and making work friends.
Q: About how many volunteers do we see per week inside the warehouse?
A: It’s approximately 530 volunteers give or take, because sometimes people cancel or they don’t show.
Q: Why do you think it’s important for people to know about the behind-the-scenes work our volunteers do day in and day out?
A: I think it’s important, because all the work done in the warehouse is done by volunteers. If we didn’t have volunteers, there’s no way we would be cranking out the volume of food we do. We don’t have enough warehouse employees to pack the senior food boxes; we serve about 8,500 seniors every month with just that program and we need about 30 people to do that. Plus, bagging all the produce for the summer lunch program and for the agencies. Volunteers also sort cans during their shifts. Basically, nothing would get done without our volunteers and I think it’s important for people to know that these are people who are coming in on their off time. They are using their free time to come in and help out their community. I think that’s huge.
Q: Are there any requirements for volunteers and if so, what are those requirements?
A: You have to be six years or older. You also need to wear closed toes shoes and appropriate clothing, so you are ready to work. You can sign up online and then show up for your shift. Then, don’t forget those closed-toe shoes.
Q: How can someone sign up for a volunteer shift?
A: Follow the volunteer link on this website and register if you are a new volunteer (there should be a button that says “Volunteer Now”). Once you are registered, you can look at the online sign-up page and sign up for any available days. Shifts are posted monthly.
Q: What is the greatest lesson you have learned working for a nonprofit?
A: I think the greatest lesson I’ve learned for me personally is not being negative. There was a time in my life that I was pretty negative. Working here, you see all the positivity. There are a lot of positive people here; not just volunteers, but employees. Everyone is really excited to be here, everyone is really excited about the work they do and we do good work. We’re helping more than 350,000 people per month.