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
Marcella 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: