Each month, a volunteer at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services is featured for their dedication of time and talent. This month's volunteer spotlight is:
Kimmy Swafford - November 2018
Access to childcare can be an obstacle for many parents. Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services’ (SFBFS) Parent Education program is able to offer free Playcare to families enrolled in the program. The Parent Education program relies on wonderful volunteers to assist with providing quality childcare while parents attend educational classes. Kimmy is one of our amazing volunteers that helps in Playcare!
Kimmy recently graduated from Sacramento State in December 2017, with a major in Biological Sciences. She is the first in her family to receive a Bachelor’s Degree, which is something she is very proud of. She currently works as a medical scribe in the emergency department before she leaves for Medical school next spring.
In summer 2016, Kimmy traveled abroad to volunteer in refugee camps. When she returned home, she realized that there was still so much help needed right in her local community and that she did not have to travel far to make a difference. “I have lived in Sacramento my whole life so it feels great to give back to my own community,” she says. Kimmy first heard about Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services when she was searching for a volunteer opportunity. Initially, she thought that SFBFS was solely a food bank. “I wish more people knew the incredible variety of services that are offered to the community,” she comments.
Kimmy began volunteering in Playcare Academy a year and a half ago with an abundance of babysitting and volunteer experience. Previously, she volunteered in the Pediatric Emergency Room at UC Davis Medical Center and in Palestine with a program called Project Hope that works with children living in refugee camps. “I have a very special place in my heart for kids, so when I discovered the Parent Education Program, I instantly knew it would be the perfect fit for me.” Education is very important to Kimmy and she loves that parents in the community can learn so much while supporting their families.
As a Playcare volunteer, Kimmy assists the Playcare Coordinator in ensuring that children ages 1-5 are playing and learning in a nurturing and safe environment. Being able to provide Playcare while parents attend classes allows parents to focus on the classes they attend. The Parent Education Program provides classes and in return, parents receive “baby bucks” which they can exchange for diapers, clothes, and additional items. “In Playcare we do many arts and crafts activities with the children, encourage sharing with each other, make ‘food’ in our play kitchens, and build awesome train tracks!” When Kimmy is not in Playcare, she helps in the boutique or the front desk.
Kimmy’s favorite part about volunteering in Playcare has been watching children grow and become comfortable with Playcare. Sometimes Playcare may seem daunting to new families, especially newly arrived refugee families. Kimmy has been incredibly flexible and is always willing to help when there are special cases. For example, Kimmy assisted Refugee Resettlement with Playcare for two newly arrived refugee families so that parents could attend and focus on their Cultural Orientation. “It is truly amazing to watch how they grow up, become comfortable with others, and how much they learn in a short amount of time. When I first volunteered some of them were extremely shy and now those same kids are extremely outgoing and it is fascinating to witness that growth,” she says. Kimmy also loves the diversity of families that are a part of the program. Getting to know the children in Playcare has been an extremely rewarding experience for Kimmy.
Kimmy has seen the difference volunteers make for SFBFS and often encourages her friends to volunteer at SFBFS, she mentions “a small fraction of their time can make a significant difference to the lives of others.” When reflecting on her volunteer experience at SFBFS Kimmy says, “Volunteering allows us to make a difference to our communities, even if it feels small. It exposes us to the diversity of individuals living within our communities and allows us to learn others’ perspective. It is also an extremely rewarding experience to watch families move toward self-sufficiency and knowing that you were a part of that process.”
SFBFS is so fortunate to have Kimmy as a volunteer. She brightens up all the children that come through Playcare and puts a smile on their faces. She is kind and is always accommodating of the different needs children have in Playcare. She provides children with a creative and learning environment and incorporates play in learning activities. Kimmy is a natural with children and the children in Playcare love to be around her. She strives to make a difference with the children she works with and her actions exemplify that.
Kimmy has enjoyed getting to know other volunteers and staff, stating, “All of the other volunteers I have met and worked with are always so friendly, motivated, and they are truly genuine people. I love how Gabby and Erica specifically always encourage and motivate me to pursue my dreams and how they really want to know me as a person and not simply just a volunteer. Volunteering here truly does feel like another family of mine!”
When she is not volunteering in Playcare, Kimmy loves to cook and bake goodies for her friends and family. She also enjoys hiking, going to the gym, and photography.
Click on a link below to read archived Volunteer Spotlights:
November 2018 - Kimmy Swafford (Youth Education)
October 2018 - Essa Loinab (No Student Left Hungry)
September 2018 - David Mitchell (Adult Education)
August 2018 - Rick Scott (Refugee Resettlement Services)
July 2018 - Kaitlyn Raymond (Health & Nutrition)
June 2018 - Juana Lopez-Rodriguez (Clothing)
May 2018 - Jocelyn Morales (CalFresh)
April 2018 - The Pre-ESL Teaching Team (Adult Education)
March 2018 - Michelle Camba (Partner Agency Network)
February 2018 - Kate Williams (Parent Education)
January 2018 - Jack Gallaher (Produce for All)
December 2017 - Ann and Robert Hollis (Refugee Resettlement Services)
November 2017 - Yasaman Nourkhalaj (Health & Nutrition)
October 2017 - Jane Lamborn (Immigration Legal Services)
September 2017 - Dian Finch
August 2017 - Christine Jackson (Youth Education)
July 2017 - Powerhouse Christian Ministries (Food for Seniors)
June 2017 - Joan Blaise (Parent Education)
May 2017 - Annette Kitowski (Partner Agency Network)
April 2017 - Jim Weske (Adult Education)
March 2017 - Andrew and Arcade Church (Produce for All)
February 2017 - Minnie Jimenez (Clothing)
January 2017 - Jake Henshaw (CalFresh)