For Paula and Elena, volunteering at CMC is something they enjoy doing together. The mother and daughter team have been helping out in the food pantry for about 6 months.
Prior to that, Paula had been a volunteer in the early 2000’s, for about a year. When her and her husband moved to West Liberty, she stopped volunteering. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then! “CMC has always been a great place of support for many in our community who are trying to improve themselves, make a good life, and find support with each other. Coming back many years later, this has not changed and only been enhanced! The biggest most recent change is, of course, to the new building. When my daughter and I started coming to help with the food pantry last fall things were in transition! It is so wonderful to see everything start to take shape. All of the cooler and freezer space available for the pantry is very helpful! Families are able to access more fresh, nutritious foods they can enjoy,” says Paula.
In the interim years between volunteering, Paula and her family moved to Guatemala – and she experienced the other side of the coin – from what refugees experience here. “Some of my time in Guatemala was spent with people who had been refugees or internally displaced due to the 36-year civil war in that country. I want my community to be a welcoming place and to give support to those who need it, especially when people have lived through trauma and violence whether that has happened right here in Iowa or anywhere else. As a foreigner and immigrant in these countries I was welcomed by most people in most places I traveled or lived. If I stumbled with a terrible accent in Spanish or when I said or did things in a strange way because I came from another culture and way of life, people were patient and kind with me; they were forgiving and helped me learn. I hope that through CMC, I can help create a place in the community where people are given the opportunity to learn and grow and experience kindness and patience,” says Paula. Elena says she enjoyed bringing food to the people in need.
For both mother and daughter, the highlight to volunteering was seeing the smiles of delight on children’s and parent’s faces when they delivered food boxes. Paula sums it up when she says she “wanted to help reduce food insecurity in the community.” Paula and Elena have enjoyed the opportunity to help CMC further its outreach in the community.