Meet Arlene Downing-Yaconelli!

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PFA is open to anyone in the community and visitors can expect to leave with 10-15 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Distributing this volume of food is undoubtedly a tremendous amount of work and requires many hands to make it happen. PFA relies heavily upon a corps of dedicated volunteers to both bag and distribute all of the fresh produce items to the community each month. One such volunteer is Arlene Downing-Yaconelli.

At the age of 78, Arlene has so far led a considerably fulfilling life. Now with children and grandchildren scattered throughout the United States and an impressive work history as a Pharmacist and Long Term Care Consultant behind her, Arlene is grateful for the life she’s been able to lead and wanted to give back.

Arlene had volunteered with a food bank before but had relocated two years and was looking for opportunities closer to her new home. “I worked with Yuba/Sutter Food bank for a couple of years and found it to be very satisfying- like I was really doing some good.  And there is very little that beats working with people who are trying to help other people.” she explained.

Not long after moving, Arlene discovered SFBFS online and decided she wanted to learn more. She then attended volunteer orientation and now can be found helping to support the PFA distributions and other Food programs in various capacities.

“Arlene is an incredible team player” said Matthew Pruitt, Volunteer Services Assistant Manager at SFBFS. “She helps us with virtually all aspects of our food distribution programs; everything from bagging and sorting the food we give out to actually riding with our Transportation team to the distributions to help them set up and pass out all of the produce. Arlene has even helped us with setting up and hosting fundraising events. She’s truly an outstanding volunteer.”

A natural busy-body, Arlene doesn’t like building up a surplus of downtime. When she’s not volunteering with SFBFS, Arlene spends her time taking poetry classes, working with nature trail maintenance crews, hiking, horseback riding, cycling and gardening around her new home.

Team-oriented volunteers like Arlene are among some of the most important assets to SFBFS. Whether it is something as menial as cutting and tying the bags used to distribute the PFA items or merely helping an elderly visitor to the distribution carry something to their car, Arlene and other volunteers like her contribute to the ‘All-in’ culture SFBFS needs to continue serving the community.

“[Volunteering with SFBFS] has been good but the thing that stands out is the warm feeling of talking to, laughing with and enjoying the folks who come to collect some of the bounty that’s being shared by people who care.” Arlene shared. “And making friends with staff and volunteers who work at the food bank- a great group of people.”

Find out how you can become a volunteer like Arlene and sign-up for a volunteer orientation here.