Interview with Volunteers of America

During the summer of 2011, Escape participated in our first Operation Backpack drive. Thus began an ongoing relationship with Volunteers of America (VOA) of Northern California and Northern Nevada. In January, Anamaria Bankert (Community Relations Associate) asked if I’d like to tour their Family Shelter and attend their monthly Brightening Birthdays event, where members of the local community volunteer, donate supplies, and make financial contributions so that the children and families can experience the joy of a birthday celebration. I was thrilled to be honored with an invitation. 

Jacque Eischens, Escape Finance Product Area Team Lead, and Anamaria Bankert, VOA Community Relations Associate

Jacque Eischens, Escape Finance Product Area Team Lead, and Anamaria Bankert, VOA Community Relations Associate

In addition to Brightening Birthdays, the families can also participate in Monday craft nights. My husband and I volunteered to host one and had a great time making Valentine's Day crafts with the families and other volunteer and VOA staff. As I asked Ana some questions about Volunteers of America, I realized that others might be interested in the answers and she agreed to a short interview.

In December, Escape Technology donated 70 bedtime packages. How was VOA able to use those donations?

Volunteers of America opened the Family Shelter Program in 2010 in response to a growing need for emergency shelter for homeless families. On any given night we host 30 to 40 children and provide meals, rides to and from school, and various services that include the whole family. The bedtime packages were a huge blessing for the little ones we serve through this program. Families that move into the shelter have little to nothing and through the generosity of community partners, like Escape Technology, they too can have new PJs, books and other essential items. 

VOA offers several programs in the Northern California/Northern Nevada region. What would you say is your greatest need? Donations or volunteers or both and for which programs?

Our greatest need is for hygienic products such as toilet paper, toothpaste, body soap. etc. Funding for our programs is constantly changing and meeting the basic needs of our clients is very important. Those needs include the items I've mentioned and we have a great need for them at the moment. Although our name is Volunteers of America our main focus is not on volunteers, we do have some opportunities listed on our website, but our main goal is to provide permanent housing and employment services to individuals and families in need. 

What is your favorite part about being part of the VOA team?

Even though I don't work directly with our residents, it feels amazing to come to work every day knowing that what I do helps individuals in need. I love seeing the smiles on the children's faces when they are blessed with various things donated by our community, or hearing success stories of lives that have been transformed all due to what our community does and gives. Those are some of the best things about being on the VOA team. 

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

As an organization we have been serving the Sacramento community for over 100 years. We would not be where we are without the support of caring individuals and community partners like Escape Technology. I am beyond thankful to those that support Volunteers of America. 

I appreciate Ana taking the time to meet me in person, give me a tour, and answer my questions. Our Escape family looks forward to future projects with Volunteers of America.