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February 25, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 25, 2011

I have volunteered for the pantry for nearly two years and have been surprised by the constant growth in the need for services and impressed by the pantry's ability to not only keep up to meet demand, but improve their services at the same time. The organization and layout of the space has improved, client choice (shopping) added and the food choices expanded to include healthful whole grains, fresh produce and dairy. From a business perspective it is great how involved the pantry is in the community--the directors write the local papers, look for grants and push for creative food and fund drives. Their dedication assures the health and growth of this great source of help for those in need.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

collecting the huge amounts of food donated during food drives.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

hard to judge.

February 24, 2011

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February 24, 2011

This is a wonderful volunteer experience because:

you always meet other interesting people;
there is plenty of meaningful work to be done;
the atmosphere is organized and well run;
your time is well used and appreciated;
the leadership is superior;
your efforts are
needed and valued; and
there is a wonderful variety of work to be done!

I highly recommend this "work"!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

many different capacities over the past 8 years

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

expand their space for them! They are bursting at the seams!

February 24, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 24, 2011

I moved to Oak Park about five years ago and was looking for a volunteer opportunity. I found the Food pantry. Five years ago we served perhaps 50 families on a busy Wednesday and maybe 75 on a busy Saturday. This past November we served 320 families on the Saturday before Thanksgiving! We are open each Wednesday and Saturday and each shift I see some familiar faces but also new faces filled with hunger, as well as shame and fear at having to visit a food pantry in order to feed themselves and their families. The extraordinary directors and staff welcome everyone and make sure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect. We all know we are but one disaster away from standing in line ourselves. We offer not only food but respect and a kind word or a joke. We offer hot cocoa on cold days and books to take home all the time. We do our best to fill specific needs. We offer fresh produce and bakery bread. We have an on site nutritionist. We carry the groceries to the cars. We have great volunteers and generous donors. The Client Choice model which allows clients to push a shopping cart and make their own selection so far surpasses the former model of just presenting clients with bags of groceries. Our touch is kind and personal. We have signage in Spanish and as often as possible translators on site. The phenomenal Walk In Ministry shares our space and works so hard to make our clients' lives easier.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I am filled and sustained by making the lives of others just a bit easier. I have seen this organization grow. The leaders actually listen to what the clients need and knock themselves out to help in any and every way. There are so many special extra touches.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would pay the staff more and expand the facility. It is extraordinary what is accomplished with a very small space and such huge hearts.

February 24, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 24, 2011

As an interior designer I have worked with the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry to decorate their space and have been impressed many times at the concern of the staff and volunteers about their environment. They very much want to provide services with dignity and grace and realize that the appearance of the pantry can contribute to that objective.
Not every social service agency takes this extra step. I applaud them in their efforts and their acknowledgement that feeding the soul is an important part of feeding the body.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Their attention to detail

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

provide them with more space to accomodate the increasing demand for services

February 24, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 24, 2011

I have been a volunteer at the food pantry for almost a year now. In that year it has changed (gotten even better) since October of 2010. That is when we changed to give our clients the experience of shopping at a grocery store and enabling them to make their own choices of food, toiletries, etc. Instead of being given a 'hand-out' of pre-packed bags of food, the clients are now given the opportunity to be in control and exercise their choice. This method of distribution has provided a great opportunity for the volunteers to interact with our clients, and each other. When I volunteer at distribution I always, always get such thanks from the clients and I always leave so thankful for what I have. I also find the volunteers interact with other volunteers much more with the current method of distribution. It's good to know your fellow volunteer.

The food pantry provides many different opportunities to volunteer-weekly distributions of food (registration, distribution of food, valeting, set ups for distribution, produce/bread rescues, unloading delivery of food, clean ups and miscellaneous events. There is something for everyone-individual, family, young, old, physically active or slower paced.

It is amazing to me what the food pantry is able to do with the limited resources it has on hand. But, that is do to the dedicated office staff, many volunteers and the very generous support from the community. Support comes in many forms for the food pantry. Hundreds of hours are volunteered during a month, but the pantry also receives many donations of food and toiletries, as well as cash. While cash is the best donation for the food pantry (as 1$ can be used to buy 11$ of food), it is amazing what the community does to support the food pantry. From an annual Girl Scout drive, to random food drives by local school children, local businesses, local churches, boy scouts, neighborhoods and even families growing a summer garden and donating fresh produce.

This food pantry is a truly amazing place to volunteer. You will get back much more than you give, I promise.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The joy I see on the clients' and volunteers' faces and the hugs and "thank you"s I receive from the clients.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Wish for a larger space and food to fill it so that needs of everyone visiting the food pantry can be meet with plenty and healthy choices of food, as well as trying to accomodate any diet restrictions or health needs as related to food.

February 24, 2011

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February 24, 2011

i have been there only a year and a half and they are a excellent bunch of people and they have excellent service and i would say that they handle the place exsquitely well

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

march of 2010

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

do nothing but donate money to them they are excellent.

February 24, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 24, 2011

i have been there only a year and a half and they are a excellent bunch of people and they have excellent service and i would say that they handle the place exsquitely well

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

march of 2010

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

do nothing but donate money to them they are excellent.

February 24, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 24, 2011

I have been a volunteer with the food pantry for over a year after retiring from 40 years of social service work. At first I hestitated to volunteer for the food pantry fearing I would have to continue to experience under staffing, few resources and general failure to meet customer needs. However, I have found my volunteer work with the food pantry to be very rewarding. It is a well run organization with staff and volunteers dedicated to the customers they serve. Given the limited number of paid staff it is amazing what they are able to accomplish. The volunteers are equally hard working. Customers receive quality and varied food offerings from can goods, meat and dairy, to fresh fruit and vegetables rescued from local food vendors. The pantry is able to purchase $11.00 worth of food for $1.00 thus expanding their ability to serve an ever increasing population of indivduals in need of food. The individuals served by the pantry is varied and includes the elderly living on fixed incomes, the unemployed or underemployed, homeless indivduals and those with physical or mental disabilities, grandmothers raising grandchildren, the list goes on. Food is such a basic human need and the indivduals and families served by the food pantry are so greatful for the assistance. Everytime I volunteer customers repeatedly thank the staff for the food and other items they receive. It is a very rewarding place to volunteer.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

See above.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Increase funding to the program in order to enlarge the space of the food pantry. It operates in very cramped quarters and could better serve customers if more space was available. Find funding to increase resources for items other than food, such as toliet paper, soap, household cleaning items, and baby needs. The pantry does this now but on a very limited bases. Find funding to increase paid staff levels or increase paid staff to full-time.

February 24, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 24, 2011

Great place to volunteer. It is always a frenzy of activity when I show up, but for the newcomer there is always somebody ready to point you in the right direction and get you going. I'm impressed with the people I have worked with and admire the program very much.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Not personally, but I've seen others who have. They are treated with dignity and are always grateful.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Give it a pile of money. The need is so great.

February 24, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 24, 2011

I have been a volunteer at the OPRF Foor Pantry for over ten years. I have never had a more satisfying volunteer experience. The Pantry staff and volunteers are committed to continuous improvement and provide guests with a dignifed experience as well as nutritious food they are able to choose for themselves. This is an organization & group of people to be proud of.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

@ both the level of volunteers - who value their work and grow in their understanding and compassion and through the grateful eyes of guests

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

simply stay the course of continuous improvement

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