Need Inspiration? Meet Dustin.
29 year old Dustin Freeman is always two steps ahead of his caregiver, LaShay Surratt, when he comes in to Second Harvest Food Bank to volunteer. He greets the Food Bank staff with a huge smile, a big “Hey!” and is ready to work.
Many members of the Food Bank family have had the good fortune to see watch this incredible young man grow up right before our eyes – Dustin has been volunteering for Second Harvest since he was 12 years old. Dustin, who suffered severe trauma to his brain when he was just 2 years old, has a commitment to Second Harvest and to our mission that clearly comes from a deep well of personal conviction, perseverance and strength.
Dustin is not in the least bit shy. He introduces himself to new volunteers and often gives tips and pointers on how to do the work (he has, after all, been here for 17 years!). He has learned how to use the pallet jack to move boxes to and from the Food Rescue Rooms, where Second Harvest staff and volunteers inspect and sort food, saving it from the landfill. Dustin and LaShay also volunteer doing egg inspections, sorting donated foods, and other necessary tasks around the Second Harvest warehouses.
“Dustin may have suffered a terrible trauma that has left him limited in some abilities others are blessed with or take for granted; however, his perseverance to volunteer is proof that overcoming obstacles is possible and giving your time and skills to help others is imperative,” says Debbie Clark, who recently retired from her position as Volunteer Coordinator at Second Harvest and has known Dustin for many, many years.
When Dustin and LaShay come to Second Harvest every Wednesday and Thursday, Dustin wears one of the many anti-hunger t-shirts he has collected over the years. He makes his rounds, greeting staff members and smiling an absolutely infectious smile. LaShay patiently guides him to their assigned work station and they both buckle down to get the work done. After all, volunteers help Second Harvest move about 36 tons of food across Northwest North Carolina every day.
“The first time I met Dustin I was blown away by his enthusiasm for serving his community,” says Sue Reichel, Second Harvest’s new Volunteer Coordinator. “His energetic spirit is contagious to everyone he volunteers with. He is constantly encouraging others around him and making it a good time for everyone. Seeing him in action is definitely one of the highlights of my week.”
Join the ranks of Dustin and LaShay and become a Second Harvest Volunteer!