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Volunteer Spotlight: Lynn Ernst

By February 21, 2024No Comments

For this month’s Volunteer Spotlight, we sat down with Lynn Ernst who has logged 269 hours volunteering on multiple teams over the past year – pack and resort, development, advocacy, and accounting. She also collects food drive donations throughout the metro region. Lynn loves knowing she’s having an impact in helping her neighbors, and gets a boost of good energy, joy, and positivity from volunteering. We also get a boost of good energy, joy, and positivity from Lynn. Huge thank you to Lynn for all the positive energy she brings to her array of roles, and for her commitment to supporting our community.

If you’ve run a food drive and had it picked up by Food Lifeline, you’ve probably met the smiling and energetic Lynn Ernst. Lynn has been volunteering with Food Lifeline for just a little over a year, but in that time she’s logged over 269 hours, and has worked in pack and resort, development, advocacy, and accounting. With a background in human resources and organizational design, Lynn has loved working on different teams and seeing how everything works at Food Lifeline.

“My background is organizational development and organizational design,” says Lynn. “I like to see how things work. So going from the warehouse and meeting somebody pulling up a van to get a food donation from us, all the way to kind of the inner workings of the business… I’m awed by it. I’m really awed by both the complexity and the simplicity at the same time. It’s fabulous. It’s a dream organization.”

Even after being here a year, she’s still in awe of the scope of Food Lifeline’s work. “I think because I’ve had exposure to some of the behind the scenes parts of the operation, [I’m surprised by] what it takes to do this. It is huge, it’s a complicated organization. If you just come to the front door and pick up two bags of food you have no idea what happens to make this work so beautifully. It’s immense. So many moving parts that have to work smoothly together.”

Lynn was only 6 months into retirement from a 45 year career when she ran into her neighbor, Senior Corporate Relations Officer Leeann Huntington. As they got to talking, Lynn shared that she was looking to find a focus and purpose after retirement, and Leeann was able to connect her to the volunteer team at Food Lifeline. That was just the beginning.

Given her many different roles at Food Lifeline, her typical day varies. She checks in with development weekly to see if there are any food drive drop offs or pick ups that need to be done. Once she gets those on her calendar, she fits accounting hours in around that.

Lynn has picked up food drive donations all over the Seattle metro area, meeting many other volunteers running food drives.

“The pickups are fun. It feels really good to connect with your donors. And they are such nice people. And to bring in food and to see how it gets packed for emergency pick ups. This is good.”

These personal relationships and connections are one of her favorite things about volunteering with Food Lifeline. She loves checking in with people she’s worked with to see how they’re doing. Some of the younger volunteers are interviewing for jobs and she enjoys hearing where they’ve landed.

“Even when I was on the floor doing pack repack, there’s just such a good spirit that people have. Like gratitude, it’s infectious. It’s amazing.”

Her ability to make an impact keeps her coming back.

“When I realized how many lives are touched by what happens here I decided I wanted to be a little part of that. Even though it’s a little part and I have limited hours. It feels good to help others on the scale that Food Lifeline impacts other lives and having a small role in that. And it’s the idea for me of positivity for myself. Feeling good every day. Gratitude is an infectious thing. It’s been a good give and take. I wish I could work here forever.”

On a personal level, Lynn loves knowing that she’s making a difference. “Knowing the small part that I had in the day, the week, the month, helps somebody, gives me tremendous joy and satisfaction.,” she says. “I feel like I’m doing something of value even though it’s a little indirect but it makes a difference. It’s great for my mental health. Positivity in general. Life is challenging… There’s all this stuff in our lives and I get a boost of good energy, joy, and positivity here. So it’s good for me too.”

She encourages anyone considering volunteering to give it a try. “Especially through the pack repack downstairs there’s a way to stick your toe in the water, get a tour, talk to some of the team,” she says. “I would just say try it and see how it feels. Don’t overthink it.”

“And then if you like it, great. If the floor is not for you, talk to Kaila (Volunteer Coordinator) and company. There’s so much you can do. Because I have a public administration background, I spent some time with Aaron (Director of Advocacy and Public Policy). There are so many ways to be involved even in advocacy. Check it out.”

We want to send gratitude and warm wishes to Lynn as she embarks on a new adventure this spring and moves to the east coast. We are so grateful for the many ways she has supported our mission and for her ever positive presence. Thank you, Lynn!