Volunteering at Casa de Peregrinos
How You Can Lend a Hand!
Because of the labor-intensive nature of our operation, we nearly always need volunteers; in fact, volunteers stand at the very core of our agency. Without them, there could be no Casa de Peregrinos—at least, not in its present form. So we’re always on the lookout for people to help us carry out our mission.
Such volunteers come to us in a variety of ways. Some, for example, volunteer on their own because they like working in an agency like ours. Others may need community-service time as a condition of the court or to receive public assistance, and still others come as part of a group from a church, service organization, or school/college. Whatever their reasons, volunteers find a warm welcome at Casa de Peregrinos.
Have some time yourself? Or a particular skill you think might be useful? Then, why not have a chat with our executive director, Lorenzo Alba. Just give him a call (575-523-5542) to discuss how your skills and interests might dovetail with our needs.
Areas of Most Need
Generally, our needs tend to fall into the categories of food processing and distribution, administration, and fund raising.
Volunteers who support our food-distribution process can help in a number of ways, including the five described just below:
Bagging and assembling Casa’s standard food packs. All distributions (except of those to homeless clients) include one of these standard packs, which contain rice, dry beans, tomato sauce, and (upon request) salt and/or sugar.
Each of those dry items, purchased in bulk, must be weighed and packaged. The packages are then assembled into the larger packs you see just below and stored until needed.
Bagging fresh produce. Because we’ve been upgrading the nutritional quality of our distributions, fresh produce plays a greater role than in the past. So we often need volunteers to repackage bulk purchases of meat, eggs, fruits, and vegetables into suitable amounts for individual/family use.
Sorting and shelving canned and dry foods. Such foods, a wonderful addition to our distributions, come to us in two ways. Throughout the year, many individuals, organizations, and businesses hold food drives for our benefit. Or, when donations are down, we buy those products directly. Getting them picked up, unloaded at Casa, and sorted and on the shelves can sometimes be an huge task, so we’re particularly grateful when we have help with that.
Interviewing clients. Often, we need more volunteers to conduct the interviews that take place before clients receive their distributions. Such interviewing requires detail-oriented volunteers with computer skills, who respect and maintain confidentiality.
Generally, interviews take from 1 to 10 minutes and sometimes (but not always) require that the volunteer speak both English and Spanish with reasonable proficiency. Would-be interviewers receive training and orientation to help them feel at ease in serving clients, and we ask such volunteers to donate a minimum of 3 to 4 hours each week.
Filling carts for clients. Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we need people to assemble orders for our clients.
Because both morning and afternoon shifts generally operate most smoothly with three to five volunteers on board, we can nearly always use both "regulars" and substitutes for the cart crews.
Substituting now and then often works quite well for people who can't make long-term commitments to specific shifts—and it helps the rest of us as well.
(See this page for a description of the steps in Casa's distribution process.)
Other Volunteering Opportunities
Aside from the many volunteers needed for Casa’s distribution chain, we can often use people for certain administrative tasks: record keeping and filing, for example. Also, we have a particular need for people to—
- Write thank-you letters (taking some of the load from the shoulders of the faithful volunteer now doing the bulk of those).
- Write grant proposals.
- Update Microsoft Access.
- Help plan and carry out fundraising events.
For on-site volunteering, we can use your help on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays anytime during the hours of 8:30am to 12:00pm (morning shift) and 1:00pm to 5:00pm (afternoon shift). We close on holidays.
If you're part of a large group that would like to volunteer or need more information on volunteering, please contact us. With a little advance notice, we can put your class or organization right to work helping the hungry of Las Cruces and Doña Ana County. You can do a good deed, have some fun, and hang out with great people (including yourselves!) all at the same time.