Bread for Life is proud to name Steve Nyerick the volunteer of the month. He has played a critical part in BFL’s success as a member of the board and most recently helped create the Harbor Pilots Program.

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

My involvement at Bread For Life began with a call from Donna Ayer in December, 2018. She asked me if I would be interested in volunteering. I was humbled and excited with the prospect of working with an organization that assisted the people of the Southington community with their food needs. I agreed to meet Donna, who gave me a thorough explanation and tour of the BFL facilities. Donna’s extensive knowledge, calm and caring nature and passion for helping those with food challenges had me wanting to be part of an organization that makes a positive impact in the lives of so many people!

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

I started as a member of the BFL Board of Directors and attended monthly meetings. I learned there were extremely talented people using their skills to help operate BFL efficiently. Donna suggested I come to the lunches being served in the dining room. I talked and listened to the clients as they ate Chef Bob’s delicious culinary meals. I learned they enjoyed socializing, expressing their views on various topics and discussing their health and housing challenges. Those issues were just as important as their food needs. One of my favorite comments was made by Big Al…“You and the people who work at BFL really listen to what people are saying…this place makes me feel like I’m a part of a family that cares about me.” Personally, I love being part of the BFL family too!

What other BFL initiatives have you been a part of?

Besides meeting with the clients at lunch, I have helped with the Fuel For School program. This BFL initiative supplies bottled water and snacks for students at the middle and high school levels. I have also organized monthly youth dinners and interactive activities during the spring and fall in the BFL parking lot. “The Gathering Place” allowed high school students to have a meal and socialize with their peers in a safe and casual environment.  Additionally, I have helped with the summer lunch program which distributed meals to families in need, located at DePaolo Middle School. I am proud to be part of the newly formed BFL Harbor Pilots Program. I helped to create this program and co-facilitated a training session for ten volunteers. Volunteers are paired with clients who are overwhelmed with navigating Connecticut’s social service networks. They may also need companionship or merely someone to listen.

Impact volunteering has had on you?

The impact of volunteering at Bread For Life has taught me these life lessons:

  • It’s just as important to acknowledge someone by their first name as it is to get a warm meal.
  • Listening to a client’s life story acknowledges someone cares about them.
  • Providing guidance or resources to help a client deal with an issue or problem helps even if it does not solve the problem.
  • Clients want you to know they are making it on their own and just need a little assistance.
  • It’s an unexpected bonus to receive care and compassion from a client when your role was meant to offer them support and encouragement.
  • All people want to feel loved, secure, and safe.

Advice to those thinking about volunteering?

My advice to those thinking about volunteering is simple…when you actively help others with intention, it makes you and the other person feel better and that’s what the world needs now.