Local News

Volunteers Get More Than They're Giving At New Orleans Food Bank

Posted September 11, 2005

— North Carolina residents David Reese and Nick Brown are out of their element.

Not only are they in Baker, La., but they are also operating forklifts at the Food Bank of Greater New Orleans instead of working at their jobs at the Interfaith Food Shuttle in Raleigh.

At a time when the people of New Orleans need help the most, the food bank was forced to move to Baker, La., not far from Baton Rouge. Now, if people need food, the food bank will go to them.

Reese and Brown are part of a nationwide contingent of volunteers from the Second Harvest Food Bank that are helping this beleaguered food bank operate.

"Folks couldn't stop asking us, 'Where are you from? You came all the way from North Carolina just to help us?'" said Reese, who is the vice president of food distribution at Interfaith Food Shuttle. "(They gave us) hugs, kisses, naturally. (It's) a tremendous feeling. It makes it all worthwhile."

"I consider it an honor to help people who need it and just to interact with them," said Brown, who is in charge of job placement at Interfaith. "They're great people."

Jenny Rodgers' home in New Orleans is underwater. She lived right near the 17th Street canal. She has actually seen video of the roof of her house almost submerged on television.

"I can't do anything about my house right now," Rodgers said. "I can't do anything about what I've lost right now."

But she is still working for the Food Bank of Greater New Orleans, her employer of eight years. She says having extra hands like Reese and Brown is invaluable at a time when she and her employees have suffered such personal loss.

"Having the additional staff support that is not suffering the same loss our employees are has kept us afloat," Rodgers said.

The volunteers from Raleigh say by far, they are getting more than they give from the people they are serving.

"Just the fact that we really need to take care of each other. There's people out there who need help," Brown said. "The interactions we have with people -- if it happened to us, they would be there too."

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