Volunteering Can Change Your Life: A Love Letter to the Northampton Survival Center

This is essentially going to be a love letter to the Northampton Survival Center and the people I volunteer with, as well as all of our clients. Around a year ago at this time, I felt very lost in terms of the general direction of life, as I am sure many people felt and are feeling. I decided I needed to occupy my time in a productive way that would help me feel good, but also help others. In high school, I loved to volunteer, but due to the pandemic, I lost that part of my life. After a simple Google search, I found the Northampton Survival Center; I’ve been volunteering there ever since.

Many people often confuse the purpose of the Northampton Survival Center because of its name, but it is actually a food bank for people in the community. We have fresh produce, canned goods, and sweets, and many of the local restaurants donate fresh meals as well. Before the pandemic, clients would be able to go in and shop to provide them with a “normal” shopping experience. However, since COVID-19, we take orders on the phone and bring out people’s groceries to their cars — that’s my main job as the cart person. I’ve dabbled in pretty much all the jobs we have for volunteers, and I truly love doing everything. However, being the person that brings out groceries to clients has given me the chance to get to know our regulars. They are the most unique individuals I have ever met and I feel so grateful to get to add to their experience every week.

One of my favorite perks would be that whenever I see a dog poking its head out of the car window, I get to rush outside with a dog treat (we obviously keep a bag of treats on hand) to ensure I get the chance to pet them. I will obviously be maintaining the privacy of our clients, but if I could, I would write about how wonderful each of them is and how much I enjoy seeing their faces every Wednesday.

The clients are wonderful, of course, but the people I volunteer with truly make my time there incredibly rewarding. Being the youngest volunteer during my shifts, I get to talk all about my time at school and my plans for the future while being met with enthusiasm that makes my heart warm. They are the kindest people I have ever met and I consider volunteering with them to be one of the greatest privileges in my life. I have volunteered there through many drastic life changes, and each time they’ve been excited to hear about it. They are some of the most genuine people I have ever encountered and I wish I could share their kindness with the world.

I truly believe that everyone should get involved within their community in any way they can. It doesn’t have to be like what I do every week — donating extra goods you have but feel you don’t need to a local organization rather than throwing it out is a small difference that could be big to someone else. It is such a rewarding feeling and I have loved getting to know the people in my community. Although I know I won’t volunteer there forever, I will cherish the time I have and remember it fondly when I leave.

Published by Alyssa Mazza for Her Campus, November 2022