Every week, Dustin Freeman serves others “across differences,” upending the traditional roles of “service recipient” and “volunteer” at Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina. Even though he, himself, needs to be accompanied by a care giver, Dustin has been volunteering at the food bank since he was 12-years-old, a decade after suffering from severe brain trauma as a toddler. Seventeen years later, he’s still going strong, learning new skills to make the operations in their Salvage Sorting rooms even more efficient.
Serving with an infectious joy, volunteering each Wednesday and Thursday is clearly the highlight of Dustin’s week. Sporting one of his many Second Harvest t-shirts, he walks the halls on the way to his shift, greeting staff members by name—after all, they’ve watched him grow up, and, in turn, he sees the rest of the Second Harvest team as a second family. Despite his cognitive disabilities, he’s eager and able to train new volunteers who come to work in the Salvage Sorting area, again demonstrating that those who might traditionally be seen as the recipients of service, can, instead, serve to help others in multiple different ways.