Bread for Life is proud to name Christie Kuriger and Paula Leibovitz the volunteers of the month. Both have played critical roles in the success of Bread for Life’s community vegetable garden.

What brought you to Bread for Life and when did you start?

Christie Kuriger: I became involved with Bread for Life and the garden as a member of the Rotary Club of Southington and as a master gardener at the garden’s inception. I have been a garden mentor for at least 5 years.

Paula Leibovitz: Gardening, especially, vegetable gardening has always been a passion for me. When I heard a community garden was being planned to benefit Bread for Life clients, I knew I wanted to be involved. My involvement began at the initial planning meetings about 5 years ago and has continued ever since.

How did your involvement at BFL evolve to where it is today?

Kuriger: As a member of Rotary, I have helped make blessings bags, served and shared meals with clients, delivered meals to home bound clients and helped fund raise to purchase the dishwasher for the facility. As you can see, I love Bread for Life and its mission that no one should go hungry as well as providing other very necessary services for their clients. I have recently decided to step down as a garden mentor and will continue to volunteer as I am able to.

Leibovitz: Once the idea of a community garden became a reality, there was a need for those with garden experience to help with the implementation and planning. I am also a master gardener, so I became one of the garden mentors. I shared this role with two other wonderful volunteers, Robin Adamo, who recently moved out of state and Christie Kuriger, with whom I share this honor. Together we planned the planting of the garden, and helped coordinate volunteers and guide our garden volunteers.

Favorite BFL event and/or memory?

Kuriger: I loved growing healthy food for the clients and working with enthusiastic volunteers who were learning how to garden and also learning from other experienced gardeners.

Leibovitz: I loved meeting the volunteers over the years. It was great to share a story, learn something new about gardening or simply to work in the morning sun (and sometimes heat) to provide fresh and wonderful produce for our clients.

Impact volunteering has had on you?

Kuriger: The impact of volunteering at Bread for Life has been a blessing. I love to help others to help themselves and feel that my efforts do make a difference.

Leibovitz: When we harvest the abundant produce, it provides a sense of fulfillment and gratitude as we know we are making a difference. Knowing that the Bread for Life clients receive the freshest home-grown produce that tastes delicious and is nutritious provides a sense of satisfaction. One of my favorite sayings is: “It is in the giving that we receive.” I think this is abundantly true for me as I and the other volunteers devoted the time to help make this garden a success year after year.

Advice to those thinking about volunteering?

Kuriger: My advice to anyone who may want to volunteer is to have a conversation with Missy, Gina and/or Donna about what they would like to do and what BFL needs. Volunteers get back so much more than they give! I love it!

Leibovitz: Giving some time to help others is so gratifying. Even if you have a very limited amount of time to volunteer, know you can make a difference for someone. Helping others and giving back is a wonderful reward for a small investment of our time.