Alan Lindahl’s journey with Food Bank for the Heartland started in April of 2020 when he was looking for somewhere to volunteer during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I was helping a local favorite nonprofit of mine, The Life House. My first event was to help them unload a shipment from the Food Bank for their pantry. I heard volunteers could sign up online. I did and the rest is history.”
Alan—who goes by Al at the Food Bank’s volunteer center, has made a lasting impression on the staff and his fellow volunteers. He goes out of his way during his shifts connecting with new volunteers to ensure it’s a positive experience for everyone.
“I try to be a good example. I purposely connect with them to make their first time memorable. When the shift ends, I ask them if they had fun. If yes, I ask if they are going to come back and consider bringing a friend. I think of my shift as 90% working and 10% cheerleading and encouraging,” said Alan.
And while he enjoys chatting with everyone, Alan relishes connecting with students. “I love when school kids and college folks come in to earn service hours. It is eye opening for them when they hear how many people they’ve helped by investing just a few hours—hundreds or even thousands depending on the activity.” Alan says it’s neat to see the realization of their accomplishments.
Alan currently volunteers at the Food Bank four to five times a week. While this may seem like a large time commitment to many, Alan thinks nothing of it. “I know that at this point in my life, this is what I’ve been called to do,” said Alan. “I have so much fun here. I intend to keep volunteering as much as I can for as long as I can.”
Alan’s generous spirit shines through in everything he does. Even when volunteering, he continuously looks for opportunities to do more. “When I volunteer at Together—which is a network partner of the Food Bank’s—I collect their empty food boxes and return them to the Food Bank to help save them money. To date I’ve returned 2,300 boxes to the Food Bank to repurpose.”
In total, Alan consistently volunteers with seven local nonprofits and has already tracked more than 100 hours at the Food Bank this year. He does not view himself as an extraordinary volunteer. For Alan, the ability to work with others to make a difference, is what fills his soul.
“This is a crazy world we live in today. And we get people from all walks of life and all seasons of life in the volunteer center,” said Alan. “But when we start volunteering, all that melts away. We just become humans helping other humans, and we all work together to get the job done.”