Volunteer Appreciation Event & Awards

27/Jul/17 / 17:23

Here at Northern Illinois Food Bank, our focus is on feeding our hungry neighbors, but recently our spotlight shifted to those who help make it all possible: our volunteers. On June 15th, our volunteers shaked, rattled, and rolled their way into the Food Bank warehouse to celebrate all the time and effort they have dedicated to solving hunger, all in a 50’s sock hop fashion. This year’s Volunteer Appreciation Dinner had attendees dressed in poodle skirts and rolled up jeans. Attendees enjoyed everything from raffles and a photo booth, balloon-sculptures generously donated by Time to Celebrate, to a live music from Rosie and the Rivets and dance lessons from Sterba’s DanceSport. It was a time to remember as well as to give back to the volunteers for everything they have given to us and their hungry neighbors.
The volunteers gathered in the warehouse where they typically pack or sort food, but this time they were able to kick back and relax in the company of their Food Bank friends. Rosie and the Rivets helped jump-start the night with their classic 50’s covers, and got our guests twisting and shouting along to the music. When it came time to take a break from the dancing, attendees enjoyed a scrumptious dinner buffet from Chef by Request and an ice cream sundae bar from Oberweis Dairy.

The Food Bank would like to thank every volunteer that has come through our doors, because whether you’ve volunteered once or one-hundred times, you have benefited our community in unspeakable ways! We would like to especially thank certain individuals and corporations who have had a resounding impact on our organization:

Pat Lyons Volunteer of the Year: Deb Czubak

Deb’s positive attitude spreads to the staff and other volunteers every day she is in the West Suburban Center office. She’s willing to step up wherever we need extra help, supporting the Food Bank’s Volunteer, Special Events, and Individual Giving teams in a variety of ways. With a passion for organization, we’ve been thrilled and grateful for her help in overhauling our storage areas. Deb has also volunteered her time and talents to solicit auction items for our special events and fill in at the front desk. No matter the project, she accepts each task with cheerful interest and a “let’s get it done” attitude. We are grateful for her service to the Food Bank.

Inspirational Volunteers of the Year: Howard & Colleen Hofmeister

This sweet couple inspires our team every week when they come in with a smile on their faces to sort and pack bread in the warehouse. Everyone who works alongside Howard and Colleen can feel the positivity they bring to the volunteer shifts. They are selfless with the time and energy they devote to volunteering at the Food Bank. On behalf of the Food Bank and all of the individuals and families we serve, we are grateful for their continued support and inspirational service!

Volunteer Supervisor of the Year: Gaby Exupery

Gaby is someone who doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘rest.’ She provides top customer service to all volunteers and does an outstanding job as a leader to any group. She is self-motivated and creates a wonderfully positive experience for the volunteers under her supervision. We are grateful for the time Gaby has spent with us here at the Food Bank. Her dedication to helping our hungry neighbors knows no borders – Gaby’s work has transferred her to Ohio, and she plans to volunteer at the Ohio Food Bank once she gets settled. We wish Gaby the best!

Volunteer Organization of the Year: Salem Lutheran Church

Salem Lutheran Church has been volunteering at the Food Bank in Geneva since March of 2015. The group’s leader, Walt Farley, leads with enthusiasm and is great at encouraging others to join their monthly volunteer group by inviting them to serve together. Church members – as well as their friends and family – have helped to provide thousands of meals for those in need during their time volunteering. Their dedication to helping others is to be praised, and they always have a good time while they’re here!

Corporate Volunteer Group of the Year: Ameriprise Financial

Multiple representatives from this valued partnership accepted the award on behalf of Ameriprise including Jack Dunk, Lori Melling, and Michael Sprenger who attended the Food Bank’s annual volunteer appreciation event on June 15, 2017. Over the past seven years the Food Bank has built a strong relationship with approximately 15 local offices from Ameriprise. Jack, Lori, and Michael represented just a few of the wonderful offices that have volunteered at the Food Bank. Over 940 employees have volunteered more than 2,500 hours at our West Suburban, Northwest, and North Suburban Centers. The Food Bank is grateful for this partnership – not only for the support of volunteers, but also for financial donations totaling over $100,000. What you do matters!

We would also like to take the time to thank our volunteers at our Northwest and North Suburban Centers. Special recognition to:

Northwest Center Volunteer of the Year: Cindy Larson

‘Dedicated’ and ‘reliable’ are just a couple words to describe this wonderful supporter. Volunteering with the Food Bank since 2013, Cindy Larson has gone above and beyond our expectations this past year. In addition to working as a volunteer supervisor, she has represented the Food Bank at events throughout the community including the Rockford Marathon, multiple Mobile Pantry food distributions, and the Rockford City Market. She often comments on how much she enjoys supporting our efforts in a variety of ways, and is willing to rearrange her schedule to volunteer her time to help. Cindy is very deserving of this year’s award.

North Suburban Center Volunteer of the Year: Cinda Bartz

Volunteering at the Food Bank since 2012, Cinda has been someone we can count on to keep up with tracking all of the volunteers who visit the Center in Park City. She is dedicated to the Food Bank and helping us serve our hungry neighbors by keeping us organized – for that we are grateful! Cinda’s attention to detail and positive attitude are something we enjoy the most about her.

Youth Volunteer Group of the Year: Cristo Rey St. Martin

The Food Bank is supported by young groups of volunteers who serve throughout the year. Our North Suburban Center has been fortunate enough to benefit from the service of the Cristo Rey St. Martin youth. Since 2012, the group has volunteered once a week to help sort and pack nutritious protein items that benefit our hungry neighbors. Often, members of youth groups are “volunteered” to serve at the Food Bank. But in the case of Cristo Rey St. Martin, each individual choses to volunteer again and again, and looks forward to making a difference. They have become a regular presence to our Wednesday evening shifts, and we know they will do a great job. They should be proud of the work they do to help the people in need the Food Bank supports.

Our volunteers have helped us send more than 10 million pounds of food to those in need in our communities. Our organization wouldn’t be possible without the committed work force of our volunteers, and we appreciate them each and every day. Once more, on behalf of everyone here at Northern Illinois Food Bank, thank you! What you do matters to our neighbors in need.

Join the family!

Want to be a part of our trusty volunteer group? See our calendar for all available shifts, and join us at a time that best suites you!
Photos from the Volunteer Appreciation Event


How You Can Help:


  • Volunteer at one of our Centers in Geneva, Rockford or Park City sorting and packing food
  • Donate to help us solve hunger in your community – every $1 donated provides $8 worth of food.



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