On an average weekday morning, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services’ (SFBFS) technology lab is bustling with students, volunteers, staff and guests. Students gather around a green table and work diligently on math and writing in preparation for their high school equivalency exam. Others flow to the classroom for a computer basics class. Volunteers, such as Lisbeth Armstrong, help job seekers write their resume, perform job search and often, offer hope.
The technology lab’s services would not be possible without volunteers such as Lisbeth. She started as a volunteer in February 2017, having just moved from her home state of Minnesota. After retirement, Lisbeth and her husband, Mark, decided to move to Sacramento to be close to their children and young grandchildren.
Right away, they looked for ways to become a part of their new community. They learned about SFBFS when they saw an advertisement for the annual Turkey Drive and decided to start by donating turkeys. “We felt the joy as soon as we drove into the parking lot,” she recalls. “The volunteers were collecting turkeys and were just so happy to be there. Mark and I looked at each other and said, ‘We need to check this place out!’” They attended volunteer orientation and shortly thereafter both Mark and Lisbeth began volunteering in different programs at SFBFS.
“This is like a new home to me,” remarks Lisbeth, whose 35-year career at a nonprofit organization in Minnesota left her longing for an opportunity to serve. She found her place in Adult Education, assisting with Technology and Job Development. She meets with clients on an appointment basis to discuss their skills, build their resumes and assist with job search. “In my career, I loved developing leaders and helping people to see their potential and their gifts. We tend not to do that in society. The idea of helping people do this was thrilling to me,” says Lisbeth, who sits side-by-side with clients, talking to them for 2 hours or more at times, giving people her undivided attention.
“Sometimes I feel that people that I’ve met here help me far more than I help them,” she reflects. Lisbeth recounts the story of a client she has met with twice. She is an incredibly experienced woman in her 70s experiencing a difficult time in her life. She needed Lisbeth’s help to rebuild and rewrite her resume. Lisbeth spent hours with her going over her previous job history, listening to her and helping her write. “When she came in yesterday, she was visibly down. By the time she left, she had tears in her eyes and told me I’d made her day. She has no idea how much she made MY day!”
Lisbeth recalls another client she worked with last year, a woman who had experience but feared job interviews. Lisbeth met with her several times to do mock interviews and help build her confidence. On Thanksgiving Day, Lisbeth received an email from the client that said, “I am grateful you were in my life this year.” Lisbeth loved hearing this, as one of her goals is to help instill hope. “I want to give people hope and help people see possibilities where they may not have seen them before,” she says.
In addition to the joy she gets from serving clients, Lisbeth also enjoys working with staff members Shay Smith and Chris Mathias in the Technology Lab. She has also formed friendships with fellow volunteers. “Every person here has a passion for the organization’s mission,” notes Lisbeth. SFBFS could not be prouder to have Lisbeth contribute to our mission and make a difference in so many lives.