Volunteer reflections

An incredible 1,108 volunteers donated over 13,500 hours of their time to Preble Street this year to help support Mainers experiencing hunger and homelessness! It takes many, many hands to accomplish all we do — including providing over 1 million meals each year and ensuring people living outside have the clothing and gear they need to stay safe — and volunteers play a key role. We recently caught up with a handful of volunteers at the Preble Street Food Security Hub in South Portland and our Receiving Center in Portland.

“We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers,” says Joe Conroy, Senior Director of Food Programs & Facilities.  “They help us get the food and clothes and gear out to people in our community. But more than that, they share the Preble Street mission far and wide and help to educate others about all we do here at Preble Street.”

Joe Carion and Tom Dunlap share stories and laughs while making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.


Joe Rardin has been volunteering with Preble Street for two years, preparing meals and delivering them to area shelters. “I noticed that the homeless population was growing and felt like I needed to do something. Every time I come in it’s a bit of an adventure in terms of what we’re doing. It’s also very welcoming. And it’s great working with [Food Security Hub team staff] Ethan and Dani — they are lovely.” 

Volunteer Joe Carion got started with Preble Street because “my wife knew a friend who was on the Board and said that the Teen Center kitchen needed some help. I like hands-on cooking, and I was already certified as a substitute teacher, so they said come on in! I did that for a few years and now I’m actually in culinary school at SMCC and on my off-times I come  here.” 

He adds, “It’s nice to be with nice people — for three hours at a time, you get to talk about your experiences while having a good time and it’s for a good cause.”  

Joe Rardin prepping kale

Over at the Preble Street Receiving Center volunteers were busy sorting in-kind donations for caseworkers to bring to clients experiencing homelessness and poverty.

“I just started doing this last week through Martin’s Point as they give us hours to volunteer each year,” says Heather, top left. “It’s been really great to be here and give back to people.”

Angela, top right, was also donating time through her company, WEX.

“This is my second year volunteering with Preble Street. I typically do the kitchen on Darling Avenue and this year I also served in the Teen Center kitchen which was great. It’s so nice to be back here this year.” 

“Working behind the scenes to help folks out there… this feels like the right place for me,” shares new volunteer Tom, pictured above. Diane, pictured left of Tom, has been volunteering with Preble Street for several years. “It feels good to be a part of this community. I just really like the spirit of folks here.”

Finally, while we consider all of our volunteers all-stars, some have truly awed us with their commitment to our agency and the people we serve. 2014 Preble Street Volunteer of the Year Lin Lisberger, pictured right, has been volunteering for over 30 years!

“I used to volunteer in the Resource Center Soup Kitchen, and soon after Florence House opened I started volunteering in the kitchen there. It’s the most beautiful place to work. My husband comes in help sometimes and so does my daughter when she comes home.”

Many, many thanks to everyone who has volunteered their time to help us achieve our mission! If you’d like more information about volunteering at Preble Street, click here

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