April 21-27 is National Volunteer Week and Kate Norton, 24, from Carol Stream is volunteering with the Northern Illinois Food Bank as part of the AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America). This is a national service program designed to fight domestic poverty and was founded in 1965 and incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993.
Northern Illinois Food Bank is excited to participate in the program this year and has welcomed a total of eight VISTAS from the Chicagoland area, including Norton, to its staff for a one-year term of service. Each VISTA provides the equivalent of a full-time employee to Northern Illinois Food Bank's staff. The AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers currently serving with Northern Illinois Food Bank are building capacity and awareness of the organization's programs, services, network partners and hungry neighbors. VISTAs are based in each of Northern Illinois Food Bank's four centers and helps support a 13-county service area.
"My VISTA experience is important to me because I am able to help food pantries feed more hungry neighbors, as well as prepare for a future career in the non-profit arena," said Norton.
Norton specifically works at the Northwest Center location and has been a vital participant in the organization's success in so many ways. Perhaps one of her greatest accomplishments was working with the Bread of Life pantry and giving them new ideas on how to recruit and maintain volunteers. Three members of the board showed up for the meeting and were super enthusiastic about some of the ideas she provided, which is significant because this particular pantry relies heavily on their board, so they took the ideas to rest of the board members and within a week they had found a volunteer coordinator who was putting the ideas into action.
For more information about Northern Illinois Food Bank, visit: www.solvehungertoday.org.