With so much going on in the world, it can be easy to feel helpless.
In these uncertain times, sometimes the best thing to do is to focus on what we can do to make our world a better place. Dorothy Day House is humbled to have amassed a group of 71 regular volunteers - who have chosen to show up, day after day, to help the unhoused in Berkeley.
DDH hosted our first Volunteer Appreciation Dinner to celebrate those who regularly choose to give their time to us. They are the reason we have been able to provide a caring presence, sustenance, and shelter to those in need for the past 29 years. We would not be able to do what we do without the help of volunteers as a small organization.
It is because of our volunteers that we can serve approximately 70,000 meals per year. Arguably, this is the most crucial part of what we do - by meeting immediate needs first, we can build a relationship built on trust with the unhoused in Berkeley. This relationship-building process makes the difference between an unhoused person's success in navigating the system and an unhoused person remaining on the street.
Volunteerism doesn't just benefit the organizations that rely on it, such as Dorothy Day House. There are also clear personal benefits, including improved mental and physical health, increased confidence and self-esteem, and many others.
Photos courtesy of Luca Capponi
At Dorothy Day House, every day is Volunteer Appreciation Day. This year, we also decided to give awards to three volunteers who have gone above and beyond giving back to their community.
The first award was the Edgerton Award, named after the late George Edgerton - who ran the kitchen at Dorothy Day House until he passed away. George was an exemplary person, who always went above and beyond to ensure that those we feed got the very best service. We decided to give the Edgerton Award to an outstanding kitchen volunteer, who has carried out the precedent set by George. This year, DDH chose to honor Dan Rademacher, for his longtime kitchen service and dedication to the organization.
The second award was the Meyer Award, named after Summer and Scott Meyer, who were longtime supporters of Dorothy Day House before we were even a quarter of the size we are now. Summer and Scott were both dedicated to getting the word out about Dorothy Day House, so this award acknowledges volunteers that go above and beyond both spreading the word. This year, DDH chose to honor Tanner Tingey for his consistency doing outreach, and for his tenacity in bringing in new individuals to help Dorothy Day House, whether it be through donations or volunteering.
The third and final award was the Dorothy Day Way Award, which recognizes a volunteer that most exemplifies the Dorothy Day House mission, which is: "To provide a caring presence, sustenance, and shelter to those in need among us."
This year, DDH chose to recognize Deborah Tatto, our longest serving volunteer, for her ongoing commitment to our cause. Deborah is a familiar and friendly face amongst the DDH lunch volunteers - and an indispensable part of the DDH team.