By Vicki Browne, Support Staff

Anyone who has ever started a new job knows that there is so much to learn. Whoever held the role before took with them a lot a knowledge and skill that must be learned by someone new. Facets of the job shift, morph into something else, or get lost in the shuffle.

The focus of this week’s post is how we’ve attempted to fill the giant gap that opened when our volunteer pool had to shrink for the safety of all.

First, we miss you! Second, we can’t provide like you did, especially the love you showered on all of us through your generous giving of time, talent and attention. Third, we don’t want you to worry because like all newbies, we’re finding ways to get the job done. Fourth, we may have initially messed up a lot of your well-oiled systems, but we’re getting our act together.

For most of the season, seven breakfast teams created miracles out of left-overs, pantry items and essentials they picked up because it isn’t breakfast without butter, or milk, or blueberry pancakes. Now one guest enlists the help of support staff and other guests to prepare the first meal of the day. She used to work in a truck stop, so she knows all the tricks. Her helpers serve eggs, toast, fruit, pastries, and whatever else is available with happy banter and hospitality just like you did.

During the daytime hours, magic used to happen all over the shelter. Chest freezers and dry goods shelves tidied themselves. Piles of dirty sheets and towels turned into neat stacks and clean bundles. Bags and boxes of donations carried themselves upstairs. We know it was you, so now it has to be us. All that laundry is being done almost entirely by one volunteer who comes in every day. The other jobs are done by staff members throughout the day. We’re here round the clock, so we roll up our sleeves and keep the boxes, bags and piles moving in (mostly) the right directions.

And then there’s the donation room. It took a while to realize that we were really getting into a bad place there. When the bags by the chalkboard threatened to topple and completely obscure the first aisle, someone had to act. We thought it was just a matter of sorting. Wow, we learned a lot about the good, the bad, and the ugly things that get donated! We also learned that folding is a precise art. It took the help of three guests who devoted an entire day to getting all those cubbies looking as sharp as you left them …or nearly so.

Needless to say, we appreciate our volunteers more than ever. We have discovered skills we never knew we had and re-engaged talents we hadn’t used in a while. It’s working, but we’re just keeping your spaces warm and tidy until you can return to your rightful, loving, caring places in our hearts and in the shelter.