"I came to ASC in 2002 and went through the Peer Recovery Education Program (PREP) and other trainings before being assigned as a Peer Volunteer in ASC's Food Pantry. I'm responsible for the whole process: I order the food, plan the orders to provide balanced nutrition and vitamin intake, coordinate the process of storing the food before we bag it up for clients, keep the shelves restocked, and supervise other Peers who help to assemble the food packages and distribute them to clients.
"On the Wednesday before our monthly food pantry distribution, five or six other Peers and I meet in the ASC Kitchen to assemble the pantry bags. The packing process takes two or three hours because we assemble more than 100 bags. The food we provide is different each month. This month's bags include fruit juice, spinach, rice, kidney peas, canned beef stew, canned tomatoes, cooking oil, milk, fruit cocktail, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
"I really like being an ASC Peer—and I say that as someone with 40 years of experience as a volunteer in many different places. I started volunteering at age 13. In Ghana, my homeland, I first volunteered for an organization called the Volunteer Work Association. We helped to build primary schools for the local children, assisting the bricklayers and volunteering in whatever way was needed to get the schools built.
"The men and women who come to the ASC Food Pantry have been through so much and are under a lot of stress. They have nowhere to turn, so they come to this agency, where they can get the help they need. I like being part of that; it feels very good to help people in need."