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updated: 4/19/2013 1:55 PM

National Volunteer Week: Wheaton Resident Volunteers at Food Bank Through AmeriCorps VISTA Program

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Andrea Schnorr

April 21-27 is National Volunteer Week and Jennifer Orlando, 24, from Wheaton 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 Orlando, 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.

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Orlando specifically works at the food bank's West Suburban Center in Geneva, Ill., and has been a vital participant in the organization's success in so many ways. Perhaps one of her greatest accomplishments was designing training materials and user guides for the organization's new online volunteer registration system, as well as helping test and correct key elements of the system. In conjunction with this initiative, she launched and created an incentive program to encourage regular volunteers to use the system to register for shifts and trained office volunteers on how to use the system to enter volunteer data administratively. She also worked with key staff to design standard operating procedures for bulk repack projects. This included pilot testing volunteers working in the room and training staff on food safety and standard procedures.

For more information about Northern Illinois Food Bank, visit: www.solvehungertoday.org.

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