SRP volunteers dig in to combat hunger
Some days, watermelon, cucumber and sweet potatoes are on the menu. On others, squash, corn and broccoli form part of a meal. Thanks to St. Vincent de Paul’s Urban Farm, the Valley’s homeless community and others in need get nutritious, fresh food in St. Vincent’s dining rooms, grown in urban gardens on the grounds of two of the nonprofit’s campuses.
More than 20 SRP volunteers spent much of a recent Saturday spreading mulch and pulling weeds to help prepare the plots that grow some of the produce. It was the first time our volunteers went there as a group, but they plan to revisit in the coming months to help plant and harvest crops.
Shiyaz Wilson, a Customer Service Representative at SRP, brought her sons out to help as well. She and her oldest son, Quadre, volunteer together regularly, but it was the first time for her 6-year-old, Kai.
“Volunteering with my two sons is not only enjoyable, but also very rewarding for us,” Wilson said. “By being able to give back to the community, I get to show them firsthand how volunteering has many forms, how it makes such a difference and how amazing volunteering feels.”
About 1,500 pounds of food grown every two months at the Phoenix area farms. It partially helps feed about 500 to 600 people a day, according to Nika Forte, Urban Farm Manager at St. Vincent de Paul.
“Thanks to volunteers, we are able to get the big jobs done, like planting or pulling weeds, which wouldn’t be possible if it were just me and another person,” Forte said.
When the temperatures hit highs over 115 degrees, as was the case this summer, that hurt the crops being grown.
“So we had to clear beds and add mulch, to better hold water, and that stuff needs extra hands,” Forte said.
Forte said volunteers don’t just help feed the community, they also help spread the word.
“Without volunteers, a lot of the work would not get done and a lot of people wouldn’t know about us,” she said.
Learn more about SRP Volunteers in the community and how nonprofits can request volunteers.
Featured Photo: SRP employee Shiyaz Wilson with her son Kai. Dan Shaffer, husband of employee Alexis Laurence is in the background.