Our work to end hunger would not be possible without the dedicated work of a team of highly skilled behind-the-scenes volunteers. Mary Connors, who has worked as our Volunteer Engagement Team Volunteer for over 8 years, is one of these mission critical volunteers. Mary will be retiring from her volunteer post this month, and we are so grateful for the critical support she has provided over the years via volunteer recruitment, scheduling, database maintenance, analysis, and other administrative duties.
Mary started volunteering with Food Lifeline 8 years ago, when the organization was still located in North Seattle.
“I had recently retired and was interested in volunteer work,“ says Mary. “A friend of mine, a business analyst, had recently done some pro bono work for Food Lifeline and recommended the organization to me.”
She has been inspired by the dedication of both volunteers and staff in the Food Lifeline community. “I’ve always been impressed by the commitment of the individuals I’ve met through the years. Folks are so committed to the mission of meeting the food needs of our community.”
Being part of this community has kept her coming back to volunteer year after year. “I felt like the work I did made a difference to the support of the fantastic volunteer team.”
When the pandemic started, she also spent several back-to-back days volunteering for produce packaging. “I was just amazed at the commitment of the regular volunteers who worked multiple shifts each week to support the organization,” says Mary. “I was exhausted by the time I went home each day!”
Her volunteer position is unique in that most of her work can be performed remotely. “I have access to the systems I need to identify upcoming volunteer sessions and the individuals who have signed up to work those sessions, and send reminders to the organizers of those groups to encourage their fellow interested volunteers to sign up within Volunteer Hub. I also maintain some clean-up functions of the Volunteer Hub database, and have performed analysis on various metrics.”
Mary, who was a business systems analyst with Hewlett-Packard and Physi-Control, says her favorite part of volunteering is the analytics. “It stimulates the part of my brain that did that for a living.”
Outside of volunteering, Mary enjoys traveling with her husband and has visited South Korea, China, South America, Europe, Turkey and Botswana. They also vacation with their families of origin on the coast of Maine for several weeks.
She also belongs to two book groups, so is constantly reading. In addition to a good novel or mystery, she enjoys gripping nonfiction such as David Grann’s “The Wager” and any Timothy Egan book. Favorite podcasts include “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” Sam Sanders, and for a political/tech bent, Kara Swisher.
But her most enjoyable activity these days is spending time with her 18-month old granddaughter. “I now know why folks say grandparenting is even better than parenting!” says Mary.
Her advice to new volunteers comes back to commitment: “Embrace and emulate the incredible commitment of the staff at Food Lifeline.”