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November 13, 2010

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November 13, 2010

Open Arms of Minnesota feeds sick people! It's about the food! It doesn't preach to or judge it's clients, but rather brings good nutritious food to their doors with a smile and a cheery "hello". Without the help of hundreds of volunteers, there would be no Open Arms. I am the one of the luckiest volunteers at Open Arms. After a sudden retirement from a full-time job, it became apparent that bon-bons and t.v. soaps were not going to fill my day, so I pursued my lifetime passion of cooking. After one 2-hour shift per week, my volunteering has grown to four 4-hour shifts per week. Open Arms has graciously allowed me to join the kitchen staff in preparing meals for clients with specific dietary needs - those with renal failure, those who prefer gluten-free food, those who need ground meals, and those who prefer African-style foods. I've learned so much more about cooking and cooking for people with compromised immune systems. Everyone at Open Arms is incredibly willing to share their knowledge along with laughter, smiles, and stories. Open Arms people are family to me and we all work together to give sick people a better life.

The Great!

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

the few deliveries I made to one client. She was always so appreciative of her Open Arms food and also that someone would trek up the stairs to her apartment to deliver it. As sick as she was she always had a smile on her face for me. As a kitchen volunteer, we get some feedback from clients through staff members and that encourages us and sometimes changes our cooking choices to make even better meals.

Ways to make it better...

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

encourage the newspapers, radio and television to help even more in getting the word out about Open Arms. As hard as we try to do this, it amazes me that, when I'm talking to strangers, so many still haven't heard about this great organization. And so many more very sick people could be helped. I'd encourage schools, teen organizations, and neighbors to take a tiny 2 hours of their week to volunteer. Noone should be sick AND hungry.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

Oh, I don't know.....parking attendants?...a chicken in every pot?

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

Yes, indeed. My cooking talents have been greatly expanded as well as my cookbook collection. I've learned much more about keeping the kitchen safe and preparing food safely and apply it in my own kitchen. My family has grown to include the people of Open Arms.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

99% Of the time: WARM AND FUZZY.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

November 12, 2010

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November 12, 2010

Open Arms staff and volunteers opened their arms to me immediately. I was welcomed that first day 3 years ago when I walked into the door. As I’ve chopped vegetables, onions were my specialty, made soup and other nutritious food for our clients, I discovered a safe environment where people respect my skills and my talents. Now I volunteer each morning packing the food – ensuring the right food gets to the right people – and having it ready when the drivers arrive to take the food to our clients. Interacting with Open Arms staff and volunteers is the highlight of my day. My life is changed forever because of Open Arms.

The Great!

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

I have grown personally in a place where I matter and feel secure. My constributionas are appreciated and others consistenly thank me for being part of the Open Arms community.

Ways to make it better...

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

bring more volunteers into Open Arms to help our current clients and to increase the number of people we can serve.

November 12, 2010

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November 12, 2010

I have been volunteering in the kitchen at Open Arms for 16 months. I arrive weekly at 5:00 and they are prepared for me and put me to work; I never feel as though I am wasting time. The shifts are well managed and coordination of cooking/packing projects appear seamless from my perspective. The staff is always friendly and open to volunteer feedback. The professionalism of the chefs is reflected in the high quality food they prepare daily for delivery. The new building has changed the dynamics of each shift but allows Open Arms to take their services to next level. The increasing need for these services could not be sustained in the old space. The Staff and Board of Directors long range vision allows for expansion of our services into the next decade. I look forward to my shift each week and have only cancelled a couple of times when it could not be avoided. I have met some awesome people during my shifts and it is an incredible feeling to spend two hours a week with a group of individuals sharing the same vision!! Everyone at Open Arms is appreciative of all the volunteers and do not take us for granted. They welcome you in at the beginning of your shift and Thank you as they tell you it is time to leave; never asking for more than you can give in time and effort.

The Great!

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

Sharing in the common good of individuals in my community as well as the world wide efforts of Open Arms.

Ways to make it better...

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

Ensure that the "closeness" of the community of Open Arms is maintained as they continue to grow. The culture of the space changes as it physically grows and the bonding achieved when working in close quarters is remarkable and life changing; it should not be lost.

November 11, 2010

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November 11, 2010

I have been volunteering consistently at Open Arm for close to two years, and my experiences have been nothing but positive. From the moment volunteers walk in the door they are greeted warmly, and everyone is given the opportunity to share their talents. Volunteer shifts are available throughout the week and weekends, so I'm able to cook in the kitchen after my day job. During the past two years I've bonded with my co-colunteers and with the Open Arms staff and made lasting friendships. I've also had the opportunity to serve with the young professionals group and gain a whole new perspective on the organization. Open Arms is a collection of some of the most skilled, passionate, energized people I have ever had the pleasure of working with, all driving forward an essential mission of nourishing mind, body and soul.

The Great!

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

The friendships and connections I've made with volunteers and staff members, which have helped me professionally and which I treasure personally. And I've learned a lot of new recipes!

Ways to make it better...

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

Expand the volunteer services staff to grow the capacity of the volunteer corps.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

November 11, 2010

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November 11, 2010

I have been actively volunteering with Open Arms of Minnesota for almost 14 years. Not only does the organization prepare and deliver healthy, appetizing, visually appealing meals to individuals living with life threatening illnesses, but Open Arms provides hope, a sense of dignity, respect, love, care, support, encouragement, compassion, strength, and vision to their clients and volunteers. My volunteer experiences have included helping in the kitchen to prepare, portion out, and package the meals, to assisting with special events and volunteer appreciations, to now delivering meals on a weekly basis to clients. Open Arms cares about every aspect of their operation, from the detail of planning, preparing and presentation of the meals to continuously engaging with the volunteers to get their input and feedback to make the organization better. The Open Arms staff is accessible, friendly, engaged and values their volunteers. I feel like I get more out of Open Arms than I give. Volunteering with Open Arms has enriched my life, shown me how impactful an organization can be in the lives of others who need help, and enabled me to establish life long friendships with other volunteers. I would strongly encourage anyone looking for a meaningful volunteer experience to give Open Arms a try.

The Great!

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

being a volunteer who has experienced all aspects of Open Arms, from the food preparation side to meal delivery.

Ways to make it better...

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

suggest instructions be placed on the individual frozen meals telling clients how to re-heat the meals (how long to microwave, should they vent the plastic wrap, etc.)

November 11, 2010

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November 11, 2010

Open Arms is a sunbeam in the dreary world of hunger. By preparing and delivering nutritious meals to clients with chronic and progressive diseases (HIV/AIDS, MS, cancer, ALS), we bring that sunbeam into our clients’ homes. When you envision a world of abundance where people won’t go hungry, you have to start small to accomplish such a big goal. I came to Open Arms 15 years ago as a volunteer. Hugs welcomed me into the doors of a “new” building. I made carrot cake, soup, sandwiches and many more delicious treats in quantities I couldn’t have fathomed before. I’ve stuffed and sealed envelopes, I set up and worked at fundraisers, I helped get our name into the community through outreach and media work. Always working next to a dedicated staff – a staff constantly looking for ways to serve more clients better. And always working next to volunteers – an amazing number are also still volunteering for Open Arms 15 years later. When our client need outgrew our building, we raised money and built a new building. The hugs, the volunteers, the staff and, yes, the love moved right into that new building and set up shop – motivated by the knowledge that with more space we can serve more clients and bring our goal of people not going hungry to fruition. When you start small, your work snowballs. Open Arms’ sunbeam ensures that our clients don’t go hungry – and each year we add more clients to our numbers.

The Great!

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

The friendships I've made, the hugs I've received and the knowledge that people who are ill are eating regularly and well because Open Arms is in their lives

Ways to make it better...

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

continue to give them the capacity to expand services here and in South Africa

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3 hours of volunteer time for this nonprofit will...

cook, bake and deliver meals, as well as plant, nurture and harvest food at our 2-acre organic farm. Volunteers love working with us because it is fun, meaningful, and they can immediately see and feel the impact of their work. Volunteer