Bread for Life is proud to name Jan Boutin the volunteer of the month.
Jan has officially been volunteering with Bread for Life about two to three times per week ever since she retired a year ago, but her involvement truly began when her husband (Warehouse Manager, Denny Boutin) began his work here in 2009.
“He found out about Bread for Life and I would help him with Soup Nite, the postal drive, pickups, and various other events. I would occasionally take days off and work in the kitchen to volunteer my services. So it was just a natural progression that when I retired, this is what I would want to do with some of my days.”
Now she volunteers with everything from the logistics of the warehouse to assisting in the kitchen and serving the clients of Bread for Life.
“When food comes from the various food drives, we have to date check everything, sort everything and put it away. We have 40 home-bound clients and once a week they get a grocery list and I fill the list for them. Also, once every two weeks, our clients fill out a grocery list and I put together the bags for them. When I finish all that, I come up and work in the kitchen. Bob Paradis (Chef at Bread for Life) has a wonderful team, and now I’m happy to be part of that. We have a pantry at Branford Hall. There’s a lot of things that Bread for Life does and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
Jan also explained how her mother impacted her passion for volunteering.
“She was kind of the go-to person, always wanted to help everyone, be the first person to go over and welcome people to the neighborhood. That kind of sticks with you and you might not think about it until later because you’re used to seeing her do that.”
While helping and giving back to the Southington community, she feels she is benefitting as well.
“Having this to come to every day gives you a purpose when you wake up. Sometimes we watch our grandson, so we have different things to do, but this is a big part of what we do because we do it together.”
When it comes to volunteering, it doesn’t always need to be a big gesture to make a meaningful difference.
“I started talking to some of the clients today and they’re so happy when you do that. I’m at the salad station and I say, “how are you doing today?’ That one little sentence makes them smile. How wonderful is that? It’s simple.”
And Jan’s favorite memory at Bread for Life?
“I think Soup Nite. You can’t believe all the people. You see the kids running around and being a part of something. They’re so happy because they’re responsible for something. It looks like organized chaos at the beginning and you think, ‘this is working. This is coming along.’ Everyone is smiling and going up for more soup. It’s fun.”
If you’re thinking about volunteering Jan says, “I’m a very shy person. Even if you’re shy, just come. Because you’re going to be a part of something. People are going to appreciate what you’re doing and you’re going to forget the shyness. You’re just going to feel good about what you’re doing because that’s humanity.”