Real need seems a pretty remote and far off concept until the moment you’re confronted by it. Suddenly your own personal needs and desires take a back seat. Sometimes – maybe even most of the time – it’s easy to ignore that real need exists. After all, we can always look the other way and try to distance ourselves from anything that makes us feel uncomfortable. Since mid-April, I have had the opportunity as a staff member of ACFB to assist in conducting Feeding America’s Hunger in America 2014 Study. During most of the week, I work to bring in much needed food and non-food items through respected sources to drive the overall distribution of product to our agencies. I love my job; however, my day to day work rarely takes me out where the need is in our community.
Through the Hunger Study, I have had several opportunities to lead and assist teams of other ACFB staff members and amazing volunteers to go into the community and actually interact and work with our partner agencies who drive what I do on a daily basis. At each partner agency, we administer surveys at random to individuals who are at the agency to receive food assistance. Generally, I answer questions about the tablets we use to conduct the survey, coordinate with partner agencies to make sure we have all our ducks in a row for the next day’s survey, and ask clients if they would like to participate in the study. It’s a pretty small function, but, in doing something as simple as asking food pantry clients if they have time to share their stories, I get to relate to and hear the voices of the actual people who really need the services and programs ACFB and its partner agencies offer.
In asking people to share their stories and describe their experiences, ACFB is afforded an incredible opportunity to learn and understand to a fuller extent what the nature is of the real need that exists in our communities. Making those connections not only inspires me to do my job better, it also lets real people know that what they have to say matters – that they have a voice. That kind of impact should be tough to ignore. Real need isn’t remote or far off – it’s everywhere. It’s real people who matter in real places right down the street.
The Hunger Study continues through August 30th – I hope to see you at the next one!