Volunteers of the Year
2020 Volunteer of the Year: Dennis O.
Since joining ExtraFood as a volunteer food runner in October 2018, Dennis has completed more than 600 trips, rescuing over 45,000 pounds of food for the vulnerable people we serve in Marin County. In 2020 alone, he has completed more than 400 trips, which is the highest number of food trips completed in just one year by ANY volunteer on our team! Dennis delivers food from local organizations such as Safeway and Trader Joe’s to local nonprofits such as Marin City Senior Center, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Sausalito Presbyterian Church, Marin Services for Men, and People’s Inter-Cities Fellowship.
Dennis was one of the first volunteers to step up and volunteer by delivering food with our new COVID-19 safety protocols in place. Dennis wanted to ensure that our mission could continue by doubling the number of food trip shifts he completed each week. He was one of ExtraFood’s “go to” volunteers as we navigated the many changes necessary to keep our mission alive to deliver food to those in need.
One great example of this comes directly from our contact at People’s Inter-Cities Fellowship in Marin City, where Dennis delivers food several times per week. She told me that Dennis is “dedicated, dependable, kind and has a heart of gold – he has been a “God-send”. One of the deliveries that Dennis makes to People’s is a large Saturday donation from Trader Joe’s, which he does with his lovely wife, Vickie. Together, they drive two large cars filled with an average of 600 pounds of food for People’s to utilize and distribute throughout their community. One particular day, Dennis asked, “What else can I do for your community?” He knew that there were many seniors that were homebound, so he wanted to help even more. On his own, Dennis purchased 30 restaurant meals that he personally delivered to the sick and shut-ins throughout Marin City. He and his wife also found a flower donation at Trader Joe’s and brought the flowers along with the prepared meals. We were told that the seniors were extremely grateful for those meals and the flowers were such a special touch that brightened their day during a very dark time.
Dennis truly embodies ExtraFood’s values, as reflected in our motto: “Food recovery with the human touch.” We feel so fortunate that he has chosen ExtraFood, our partners, and the people we are serving together as the grateful recipients of his boundless generosity, enormous impact, and exemplary service. It is an honor to work with Dennis, whose personal ambition is to be of service to others in his very humble way. We thank you, Dennis, for your devoted time, energy and generous heart to those in need throughout the community of Marin - Congratulations on being ExtraFood's Volunteer of the Year!
2019 Volunteer of the Year: Maija S.
Since joining ExtraFood as a volunteer food runner in November 2016, Maija has completed more than 600 trips, rescuing over 63,000 pounds of food for the vulnerable people we serve in Marin County. In 2019 alone, she has completed more than 340 trips, which was the largest number of food trips completed this year by ANY volunteer on our team! Maija delivers food from local organizations such as Safeway and Byte foods to local nonprofits such as Homeward Bound, San Rafael Rotary Manor, Sausalito Presbyterian Church, and People’s InterCities Fellowship.
Maija will jump in at a moment's notice for spontaneous and unusual donations such as rescuing food from the Marin County Fair and delivering over 50 cases of “seaweed” snacks from a last-minute donation from gimMe snacks. She can be counted on to jump in whenever she sees the need. Maija’s positive attitude and dedication shine through in her commitment to the ExtraFood mission!
Maija also owns a summer food trip where she recovers food at the Novato Farmers’ Market on Tuesday evenings and rescues the beautiful produce donated by Marin’s local farmers and delivers this to Gilead House – a shelter for homeless mothers and children that teaches them skills that transform their lives.
Maija’s dedication as a volunteer is truly a model for the ExtraFood community. Maija's big heart and big van help us spread our resources to reach more people and deliver healthy foods with a quiet touch and clear purpose. Maija was also our nominee for this year’s Heart of Marin Volunteer of the Year, where she celebrated with many other amazing volunteers doing such great work in Marin County. The entire ExtraFood staff feels truly lucky to have such a dedicated and wonderful volunteer on our team.
2018 Volunteer of the Year: Gary G.
We are delighted to honor Gary Gellin as ExtraFood’s Volunteer of the Year. He has completed more than 250 food trips this year, rescuing and delivering more than 10 tons of food for people in need. But beyond the sheer size of the impact Gary has made for ExtraFood and our community, Gary has gone above-and-beyond in his just-in-time availability for ExtraFood. If a volunteer cancels their commitment to a food trip at the last minute, if we have an unfilled trip and the clock is ticking, or if we have a spontaneous food donation that needs quick service, it is “Go-to-Gary” time and again who selflessly jumps in not only to rescue the food but our staff as well! And he is unfailingly friendly, professional, and reliable in his work for ExtraFood. Gary truly embodies ExtraFood’s motto, “Food recovery with the human touch."
2017 Volunteer of the Year: Ellen Mc.
We are delighted to honor Ellen Mc. as ExtraFood’s 2017 Volunteer of the Year for the above-and-beyond service and leadership she has provided for Marin’s hungry over the past 4 years. Since joining ExtraFood as a volunteer food runner in February 2014, just two months after ExtraFood began operating, Ellen has completed nearly 500 food trips, recovering more than 15 tons of food for the vulnerable people we serve. Playfully dubbed our “Food Recovery Angel” for her uncanny ability to swoop in and cover volunteer gaps in our food delivery schedule on any given day, it's no wonder that Ellen was among the first volunteers to be inducted into our new “Food Recovery Heroes” volunteer group this year. Each member of this select group of outstanding volunteers has not only completed a minimum number of food trips every year for the past three years but has also demonstrated exemplary reliability, consistency and long-term commitment to ExtraFood's mission. Members were acknowledged at a special event with ExtraFood’s staff and Board, and had their names inscribed on a permanent plaque at ExtraFood’s office.
While Ellen’s dedication to food recovery is truly remarkable, her impact is further felt by her efforts to acknowledge and advance our all-important volunteer team. Recognizing the value of supporting her fellow volunteers, Ellen has volunteered to help organize ExtraFood’s annual Volunteer Appreciation event every year, has helped launch our volunteer name badge “milestone” incentive program, and is a mainstay at ExtraFood fundraising events – not only supporting our fundraising, but also always engaging with our volunteers at the events to motivate and inspire them.
It is an honor to work with Ellen, whose personal ambition is to shine the light on others. She has devoted her time, energy, and generous heart to reducing food waste, delivering food for Marin’s hungry, and helping cultivate the very core of ExtraFood’s food recovery program: our extraordinary volunteer team.
Ellen truly embodies ExtraFood’s values, as reflected in our motto: “Food recovery with the human touch.” We feel so fortunate that she has chosen ExtraFood, our partners, and the people we’re serving together as the grateful recipients of her boundless generosity, enormous impact, and exemplary service.
2016 Volunteer of the Year: Don C.
We’re delighted to honor the amazing Don C. as ExtraFood’s 2016 Volunteer of the Year. Don joined our team in February as a volunteer food runner. Since then, he has completed 322 food trips in just 10 months. That’s a record number of food trips completed by a volunteer in one year! And, on top of that, he once did 13 food trips in a single week! Another record! He has delivered a total of 20,000 pounds of food: 10 tons in 10 months. That’s incredible work, but Don has also lent his expertise in helping us recruit new food donors, and he also initiated the process that led ExtraFood to start a new food program with the College of Marin.
Don has massive amounts of energy, enthusiasm, and brings a cheerful attitude with him on all of his food trips. All of our food donors and recipients know when Don has arrived because they can’t miss that huge grin on his face! He has become an expert at knowing many of the nonprofits we serve, as well as developing relationships with their staff so that he can make on-the-spot decisions when necessary.
Our partner Erika at Whistlestop, who Don sees each week when he delivers there, said this about Don: "Noone is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burdens of others. To me, this is Don. He arrives each week at our Whistlestop Meals of Marin program site with a huge smile and big heart and shares that with each and everyone he comes in contact with at Whistlestop. It's an honor to work with a wonderful dedicated volunteer like Don!”
The entire ExtraFood staff feels truly lucky to have such a dedicated, passionate, and wonderful volunteer on our team. We salute Don, our Volunteer of the Year!
2015 Volunteer of the Year: Lee S.
We’re proud to honor Lee S. as ExtraFood’s 2015 Volunteer of the Year. He’s been with us for 18 months and completed his 300th food trip a few weeks back! And he has no intention of slowing down. “Life has been sweet to me”, said Lee, letting us know that he feels lucky that he has the time and ability to give back to his community. “You get back what you give” was Lee’s reply when asked why he loves to volunteer for ExtraFood. He gets it back big-time when he’s doing his four weekly food trips—whether it’s a generous hug from a recipient, to a friendly wave and maybe a taste of food from a food donor. He’s a great communicator, frequently passing along important information from donors and recipients, and is a wonderful ambassador for ExtraFood in our community. We all feel it’s an honor to be working with Lee to help end hunger in Marin.
2014 Volunteer of the Year: Lynne S.
Lynne did her first food trip during the very first week we began operating in December 2013. Since that time, she has completed over 130 trips. Over 130! That’s amazing in and of itself, but Lynne’s contributions to ExtraFood go far beyond that. To give a few examples of many:
- She has worked diligently and tirelessly on the effort to recruit new food donors, not only leading other volunteers to do so but personally recruiting quite a number of food donors herself.
- She has almost invariably captained our teams at the Thursday and Sunday Civic Center farmers’ markets, not to mention doing the Tam Valley and Mill Valley farmers’ markets trips regularly.
- Her tireless efforts to spread the word about ExtraFood have had a huge impact on the awareness of ExtraFood throughout the county.
- There are so many other ways that Lynne has contributed to ExtraFood’s growth and success, too many to enumerate here. But any start-up needs people who “pitch in” and do all sorts of things that just plain need doing, and Lynne has done tons of those. Like our fantastic ExtraFood aprons, which reflect Lynne’s boundless creativity!
And what Lynne brings most of all is a huge passion for feeding the hungry and ending food waste—and a big, giving heart—that has fueled her dynamic and dedicated work for ExtraFood this year.