Volunteer Spotlight

Each month, a volunteer at SFBFS is featured for their dedication of time and talent. This month’s volunteer spotlight is:

Marcella Ramirez - July 2014

Photo for volunteer story 3Marcella Ramirez began volunteering in Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS)’ Parent Education program eight months ago. A part-time in-home care provider and a full-time mom to a 15-year-old son, Marcella spends about 15 hours a week as the Parent Education receptionist, though the title falls short of the many tasks she actually performs.

Born in San Jose 39 years ago, Marcella has worked in customer service for most of her career. She relocated to Sacramento in 2000 with her infant son so they could be closer to his father. In 2010 she became a Certified Medical Assistant and, after the clinic she had been working at closed, she began providing in-home support for an elderly woman. “I love working with people,” she says of her career. “I can’t see doing anything else.”

After being referred to SFBFS, Marcella attended Volunteer Orientation and says she chose Parent Education because it gave her the opportunity to be working with the public and because she had experience with clerical work. When she met Lorena Carranza, Parent Education Program Manager, she knew she was in the right place. “I just love Lorena,” she says, smiling. “I’ve never seen her in a bad mood. She is always happy and smiling.” 

As the Parent Education receptionist, Marcella runs the front desk, greets clients, enters data, works in the Baby Boutique and helps during special events. “Marcella was supposed to be just a receptionist,” comments Lorena, “but she is way more than that. Marcella is super-reliable. She always goes above and beyond. If you ask her to do something, she always takes the initiative to go one step further and make improvements.  She is fantastic.”

SFBFS’ Parent Education program is designed to engage expectant families, mothers, fathers, grandparents or guardians with children aged 0 – 5 years in connecting with their children in an empathetic manner by providing resources, skills and activities that will unite their families through love, compassion, structure, mutual understanding and fun. While volunteering in Parent Education, Marcella has the opportunity to get to know the parents taking the classes and their children and they get to know her too. “One of the clients was in here with her little boy recently and when they were going to leave she said ‘Ok, now say bye!’ and the little boy said ‘Bye, I love you!’ and it just about melted my heart. He made my day.” 

While she was in school, Marcella volunteered at UC Davis in the nurse’s trauma unit for 6 months. “I liked it there; there was never a dull moment. But I’m a sensitive person and it wasn’t the job for me.” Luckily, a sensitive person is just what is needed in Parent Education. “Even though Marcella doesn’t speak Spanish,” praises Lorena, a native Spanish speaker, “she can understand it and has been able to communicate really well with the families. She is always ready and very compassionate.” Luckily for SFBFS, Marcella keeps coming back. “It’s important to be involved,” she says, “to interact with people and to be doing something for the community. I like to stay busy; I like Lorena, what I do, and the clients.  I’ve never had a bad experience here.”

Where would the Parent Education program be without volunteers like Marcella?  ”Without volunteers, there is nothing we can do,” says Lorena. “They help us take care of clients, sort donations, teach classes and mentor families. They help with every single aspect of the program. As for Marcella, I call her my brazo derecho,” she beams, using the Spanish phrase for a right-hand man. “When she is here, I am much more relaxed and can focus on teaching class because I know she is in charge of things. If I cannot be here because I’m sick or at training, I am not worried because I know she can take care of things, and she has done it many times. She gives me complete peace of mind. She is the perfect assistant.”

This summer brings many opportunities to get involved with Parent Education. When school is out, there will be more children attending class with their parents. Volunteers will be needed to help teach classes that are focused on parent-child engagement so that parents can bring their children and still participate.  Additionally, male volunteers are always needed to teach 24/7 Dad classes and to lead support groups for fathers.

Interested in helping guide a family on their journey? Visit >for a list of upcoming orientations. 

Click on a link below to read archived Volunteer Spotlights:

June 2014 - Christine Trillo
April 2014 - Linda Von Schoech
March 2014 - Rosalie Furgason
February 2014 - Kimberly Swenson
January 2014 - Nana Djunga
December 2013 - Melanie Freer
November 2013 - Mike & Judy Evitts
October 2013 - Tricia Henderson
 
September 2013 - Rachel Teater

August 2013 - Micheal Carter-Morse

July 2013 - Angelica Munoz

June 2013 - Bill Byrne 

May 2013 - Theresa Defazio-Darosa

April 2013 - Brenda Adams
 
March 2013 - Maggie Ortega
February 2013 - Elitas Schmidling      
January 2013 - Matt Shields

 

 

November 2012 - Kara Schunk
October 2012 - Brian Trieu

September 2012 - Candace Chwierut

August 2012 - Hallie Vae Wallace
 
July 2012 - Rosemary Guzman

June 2012 - In Memory of Margot Abrott

May 2012 - Jane Eiferle  
April 2012 - Kevin Price

March 2012 - Kris Morris & Ryan Alvey

February 2012 - Green 1 
January 2012 - Ellie and Maggie Keenan
December 2011 - Brian Geary

November 2011 - Pat Palley

October 2011 - Yolanda Moore

September 2011 - T. Jackson

August 2011 - Julia Siegel

July 2011 - Leslie Marria & George Langley

June 2011 - Pornpun Briggs 
May 2011 - Charlotte Hansen
April 2011 - Becky Starr

March 2011 - Russ Landers
February 2011 - Evan Berry 
January 2011 - Christina Ubaldo

 

December 2010 - Volunteer Spirit Awards 
November 2010 - Cynthia Bows 
October 2010 - The Jensen Family 
September 2010 - Markus Mar-Liu 
August 2010 - Peter Fusselman 
July 2010 - Steff Echeverria 
June 2010 - Michael Adams 
May 2010 - Ericka Jansen 
April 2010 - Rudy Garcia 
March 2010 - Erv Bradley 
February 2010 - Chris Suter 
January 2010 - Nellie Mackie & Hank Greenfield
November 2009 - Carrie Detwiler
October 2009 - Jim and Wally Hofssis 
September 2009 – Pat McManus 
August 2009 – Dale Hinnen 
July 2009 – Elaine Liu 
June 2009 – Aiyanna Pearson 
May 2009 - Lee Salerno 
April 2009 - Elliot Wenzel 
March 2009 - Ignatius Gruenwald
February 2009 - Helen Parra

 

May 2012 - Michelle Garcia
April 2014 - Linda Von Schoech
March 2014 - Rosalie Furgason
February 2014 - Kimberly Swenson
January 2014 - Nana Djunga
December 2013 - Melanie Freer
November 2013 - Mike & Judy Evitts
October 2013 - Tricia Henderson

September 2013 - Rachel Teater

August 2013 - Micheal Carter-Morse

July 2013 - Angelica Munoz

June 2013 - Bill Byrne

May 2013 - Theresa Defazio-Darosa

April 2013 - Brenda Adams

March 2013 - Maggie Ortega
February 2013 - Elitas Schmidling     
January 2013 - Matt Shields

 

 

November 2012 - Kara Schunk
October 2012 - Brian Trieu

September 2012 - Candace Chwierut

August 2012 - Hallie Vae Wallace

July 2012 - Rosemary Guzman

June 2012 - In Memory of Margot Abrott

May 2012 - Jane Eiferle 
April 2012 - Kevin Price

March 2012 - Kris Morris & Ryan Alvey

February 2012 - Green 1
January 2012 - Ellie and Maggie Keenan
December 2011 - Brian Geary

November 2011 - Pat Palley

October 2011 - Yolanda Moore

September 2011 - T. Jackson

August 2011 - Julia Siegel

July 2011 - Leslie Marria & George Langley

June 2011 - Pornpun Briggs
May 2011 - Charlotte Hansen
April 2011 - Becky Starr

March 2011 - Russ Landers
February 2011 - Evan Berry
January 2011 - Christina Ubaldo

 

December 2010 - Volunteer Spirit Awards
November 2010 - Cynthia Bows
October 2010 - The Jensen Family
September 2010 - Markus Mar-Liu
August 2010 - Peter Fusselman
July 2010 - Steff Echeverria
June 2010 - Michael Adams
May 2010 - Ericka Jansen
April 2010 - Rudy Garcia
March 2010 - Erv Bradley
February 2010 - Chris Suter
January 2010 - Nellie Mackie & Hank Greenfield
November 2009 - Carrie Detwiler
October 2009 - Jim and Wally Hofssis
September 2009 – Pat McManus
August 2009 – Dale Hinnen
July 2009 – Elaine Liu
June 2009 – Aiyanna Pearson
May 2009 - Lee Salerno
April 2009 - Elliot Wenzel
March 2009 - Ignatius Gruenwald
February 2009 - Helen Parra

Volunteer Spotlight – October 2011
Yolanda Moore

yolanda.jpgYolanda Moore originally came to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) about five years ago when she was taking art classes at a local community college. She heard, by word of mouth, about a free art program for women in Sacramento, offered at a local non-profit organization. She became intrigued with the idea decided to check it out. What she found was the Women’s Wisdom Art program at SFBFS, a free art group for women from diverse backgrounds, who come together to support one another, learn new skills, and gain self-confidence and creativity. Yolanda felt very at home and started to gain confidence in her artistic abilities.

yolanda_1.jpgAfter attending classes, she decided to pursue her degree in Art at Sacramento State University. Her classes began to take up the majority of her time. Eventually she approached Helen Plenert, Women’s Wisdom Art Program Manager, to inform her that she no longer had time to participate in the program and needed to commit full time to her Sac State classes. Although Helen and the other students were sad to see Yolanda leave, it made them happy that she was pursuing a lifelong goal. By setting such a goal and steadfastly working toward it, Yolanda was unknowingly inspiring others in the program. “Even as a student, she was always a huge help in the classroom,” says Helen. “I asked her to consider coming back as a volunteer someday. It was just over a year ago when she walked back in to begin volunteer work for us. “

In 2010, Yolanda returned to SFBFS after receiving her degree as a volunteer for the Women’s Wisdom Art program.  As a volunteer, Yolanda offers support to the students in the program. “Every day is different,” says Yolanda. She typically arrives before any classes start, working with the instructors and pulling out all the necessary materials. The women often ask for help finding a certain item or ask for Yolanda’s opinion on a project. “Every woman has her own style when it comes to art,” she comments. “I try to give my opinion to them while at the same time making sure it doesn’t interfere with their own ideas.” Yolanda’s favorite part of volunteering is seeing students progress. Oftentimes students arrive unsure and afraid that they can’t create something worthwhile. The nature of the program allows them to freely express themselves and develop creatively. Once a student sees their work displayed on a gallery wall, they feel accomplished and self-confident. “The quality of the artwork created by these women is truly impressive,” says Yolanda.

Helen and the other instructors in the program value each and every day that Yolanda volunteers in the classroom. According to Helen, Yolanda is one of those rare jewels who see what needs to be done and just jumps headfirst in to do it. A new student may need some comforting and Yolanda just sits down next to her as if that was the last seat in the room and strikes up a conversation. Another minute she is up to her elbows in dirty dishes and paint brushes. “It's really a rare moment when I have to ask her to help with something specific because she usually thinks of it before I do. In fact, she may have already done it before I finish asking!” says Helen.

In addition to volunteering, Yolanda can be found painting or drawing on her own time, spending time with her friends, or visiting her family, including her grown children and five grandchildren.

If you are interested in volunteering your time to help someone in need in our community, click here for more information.