‘Empathy in Action’: HOPE Atlanta Celebrates National Volunteer Week
Volunteers make our mission possible. Learn more about what they do and how you or your organization can get involved.
It’s National Volunteer Week 2022, and this year’s theme is “Volunteering is Empathy in Action.” No one could agree with this statement more than Amy Olvey, HOPE Atlanta’s Director of Community Engagement. Every week, Amy works with anywhere between 50 to 175 volunteers, each playing an essential role in HOPE Atlanta’s mission to end homelessness and hunger in Georgia.
“Our volunteers are our boots on the ground,” said Amy. “We could not do this work without them.”
Last year, despite some volunteer activities being modified due to COVID, more than a thousand people volunteered to help distribute more than 1.9 million pounds of food.
“I can not speak enough of their time, their effort, and giving,” Amy added. “They’re so passionate.”
Whether you’re a leader seeking team-building opportunities for your group or just curious about ways to make a difference in Atlanta-area communities, read on. Here are the “5 Ws” of volunteering with HOPE Atlanta!
Who volunteers with HOPE Atlanta?
HOPE Atlanta engages a wide range of volunteers and volunteer groups, so there are opportunities for everyone who is eight years old and up. A few examples of groups who have volunteered with us:
- School groups
- Faith-based groups, like Sunday School classes
- Sports teams
- Corporate groups
- Sororities and fraternities
- Special interest groups like book clubs (there’s even a motorcycle club that volunteers regularly)
And it isn’t just groups who can volunteer. Individuals are invited to sign up as well!
“There is a place for anyone at HOPE Atlanta, from eight years of age to our senior community,” Amy explained. “A lot of our volunteers are retired school teachers, nurses, etc. They’re just trying to give back.”
What are some of the ways to get involved?
There are four main ways to volunteer with HOPE Atlanta.
- Pack meals for kids and families. From grocery boxes for families to SuperPacks that feed kids during summer and school breaks, preparing food for distribution requires tons of hands-on work. Volunteers in our Volunteer Center typically spend about 3 hours building boxes and packing bags for our food-insecure neighbors. Learn more and sign up for a slot.
- Serve in our community kitchen. Volunteers 13 years old and up are invited to serve in our Women’s Community Kitchen, which provides hot meals restaurant-style on Wednesday and Friday mornings. Volunteers help prepare, serve, and clean up after meals and can expect to dedicate about 3 hours. View current opportunities and sign up.
- Participate virtually by donating supplies. We’re always looking for food and supplies to aid our outreach, housing, and hunger relief teams. Last year, thousands of people volunteered virtually — packing snack bags, school lunches, and supply kits for people transitioning out of homelessness. Currently, there is a great need for new (unopened) move-in supplies for newly-housed families — including pots and pans, dinnerware, towels, and bedding. Click here for supplies needed and instructions on building “kits” from home!
When are volunteers needed the most at HOPE Atlanta?
While there are volunteer opportunities year-round, there are two seasons when more volunteers are needed: during the summer months and the holidays.
“During the holidays, we need more hands-on-deck,” Amy explained. Besides our usual homelessness and hunger relief operations, HOPE Atlanta ramps up food distribution and provides special Thanksgiving and holiday meals.
In the summer, thousands of children rely on HOPE Atlanta’s Smart Lunch Smart Kids program for a steady source of nutrition when their primary food source — subsidized school meals — becomes unavailable. That requires more volunteers to pack and distribute food.
Where do HOPE Atlanta volunteers serve?
HOPE Atlanta has three primary locations where volunteers serve.
- The WeServe Volunteer Center. This is where volunteers and groups come to assemble food bags and boxes and prepare food for distribution.
4025 Welcome All Road
Atlanta, Ga. 30349
- The Women’s Community Kitchen. Located adjacent to HOPE Atlanta’s corporate office, the “WCK” hosts restaurant-style meals for women and children in need every Wednesday and Friday.
458 Ponce de Leon Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30308
- Your Home or Office. Organize a virtual packing event at your convenience to build move-in kits, cleaning kits, food kits, and more.
Curious about our COVID safety precautions for in-person volunteers? Click here to download more information.
Why is it important to give back?
While people commit to service for various reasons, volunteers often find that they gain as much as they give back: a renewed sense of purpose, new friendships, or simply a meaningful way to spend their spare time.
Longtime volunteer Emily Grossman had several heartwarming stories to share.
“During Spring 2019, I began to volunteer with the Women’s Community Kitchen. The collaboration among the volunteer groups and individuals, preparing, plating, and serving approximately 40 women, from young mothers with babies and toddlers to elderly women, was extraordinary. I always left the Kitchen feeling weary yet exhilarated. The women we served were grateful for a place of comfort to sit and eat in relative leisure and safety, have a clean, somewhat private lavatory, and in general, spend time among other women who cared about them.”
A volunteer since before Action Ministries joined HOPE Atlanta, Emily has also seen firsthand the impact of her work delivering meals to combat childhood hunger.
“Two children in one apartment complex thanked me for the food because, ‘We are hungry, and my mom isn’t working.’ I grew so fond of these children as I watched them shoulder responsibilities of doing school work and watching their younger siblings.”
You can learn more about volunteer opportunities and other ways to give back by visiting HOPE Atlanta’s website. Questions about volunteering, or want to set up a volunteer activity for your company or group? Please contact Amy Olvey.