For this month’s Volunteer Spotlight, we spoke with Anne and Rick Lichtenstadter, who started volunteering during the pandemic on our Emergency Community Food Distributions. Anne and Rick come in every Friday to run the Shop the Dock Program and have contributed over 650 hours of their time! They have quickly become invaluable members of the Food Lifeline team, and deeply value serving their community and forming connections with so many committed employees and volunteers.
Anne and Rick Lichtenstadter joined Food Lifeline in the summer of 2020–during the peak of Covid. They had both just retired and were looking for a way to help out. They started volunteering with Food Lifeline’s Emergency Community Food Distributions, first in Northgate and later at the Hunger Solution Center in South Park. Before retirement, Anne had worked as a Speech and Language Therapist in the schools and Rick as an Attorney and Administrator for Public Attorney’s Office for King County, so volunteering was a natural continuation for both of them of serving the community.
“It was a community feeling,” says Anne, reflecting on the pandemic-era direct food distributions. “We had two sides of the drive through, and you got to know people who were coming through. There were people picking up for schools, or for different groups.”
They also really enjoyed the connections with different generations. “There were a lot of young people,” says Rick. “So it was fun because you were working arm in arm maybe with people just finishing high school and planning to go to college…So we felt like we were having a connection with a younger group. And it was just fun just working with a big variety [of people.] There were retired people, there were people from the service…”
When the emergency community food distributions ended in the summer of 2021, Volunteer Engagement Director Renee DeRosier approached them about helping with Food Lifeline’s Shop the Dock. Shop the Dock is a completely volunteer-run program that allows agencies to pick up food that is nearing the end of its shelf life, but can still be used at meal programs, shelters, or during same-day distributions.
They found the community feel of the emergency food distributions just as present at the Hunger Solution Center. “We’ve gotten to know the different agencies that come in on Friday. So you feel like you’re participating and helping them because it’s quite amazing what some of those agencies do, what they provide.”
“The people both here and from the different agencies are amazing,” echoes Rick. “They’re getting food here and talking about having to distribute it to the people in their communities. So they’re doing both ends. It’s amazing the amount of work that’s going on and what people do.”
“I feel like I’m participating a little bit in helping others,” says Anne. “I think the job I had I was always working with families and children, and I wasn’t doing that any longer. So volunteering helped me fill that need. Participating and helping those in need.”
When asked what they would say to people considering volunteering, Rick says, “I know people always say this but you really do always receive more than you give…I think people really enjoy working here and people get along well…There’s something different about being around a whole group of people that feel that they’re helping, so it’s not just a job. And people appreciate us and are very kind.”
Anne nods in agreement. “There was someone who worked here who said working here makes you a better person and I would agree.”