Being a volunteer is about more than simply donating time for Florida resident Victoria Frisk. For her, it’s about soul enrichment — hers and the ones she serves.
Since her teenage years, Victoria has given back to others through service. Most recently, she’s helped others as a driver for the Wildwood Soup Kitchen, delivering meals to recipients who are homebound. It’s an effort that not only nourishes their bodies, but it fulfills emotional and social needs, as well.
Points of Light talked with Victoria about why she volunteers and the impact she’s made.
Why did you get involved with the Wildwood Soup Kitchen?
I have always volunteered. I love working with people and doing something for them that they cannot do for themselves. I’ve never known a time when I didn’t volunteer doing something. At 15 years old, I worked at the hospital as a candy striper. I’ve worked with adults and children over the years, and I have always felt an obligation to volunteer. It’s enriched my soul.
I started working at Wildwood in 2006 when I saw an article on the soup kitchen in the local paper. I went down to visit and thought I’d like to work in the kitchen. But, when they said they really needed drivers, I said, “No problem.” And, after my first delivery, I was hooked.
The people are very friendly and welcoming.
How often do you volunteer?
I drive for Wildwood every other Thursday morning from 9 a.m. to noon. The drivers work in twos, and over the years, I’ve had three co-drivers. My current one, Pat Gable, is very dependable, and I enjoy our day together.
I’ve had the same route for 10 to 11 years, but the number of deliveries fluctuates. We always check the route board to see how many people we’ll be delivering to that day. Generally, we have between 30 and 40 meals delivered, depending on people moving in, moving out, hospitalizations, etc. If they’re gone for several weeks, we can resume delivering to them when they return.
What impact do you feel you’ve made?
Overall, I believe Wildwood delivers about 1,600 meals a week. The people we deliver to are just wonderful. For me, it’s a privilege to share myself with others. We deliver to people who cannot come to the soup kitchen. Therefore, we’re providing something they need or want. We have one lady on our route who loves croissants, and when they’re available, we make sure she gets them.
Also, everyone needs a visitor — someone who listens to their stories and enjoys them for being the special person they are. In particular, I have long conversations with one of the women I deliver to. She’s in a wheelchair and has been for a long time. She’s 88, sharp as a tack, and always has classical music playing and plays beautifully herself. It’s a pleasure to speak with her about her life.
What does Wildwood provide for its recipients?
Although it’s called a soup kitchen, the majority of meals are hot — meat loaf, baked potatoes, green beans, or spaghetti, bread, salad and a dessert. For some of the clients, it’s the only hot meal they get all day.
As drivers, we get the appropriate number of coolers to hold the containers the cooks put the food in. We load those in the car, and off we go to deliver the food and talk with people. Then, we return the empty coolers to the kitchen, clean them and get them ready for the next day.
What do you find fulfilling about volunteering for Wildwood?
Personally, I want the people on my route to know that they’re respected and cared about. My partner and I do lots of different things for some people. If they need help with their cats or help putting a faucet together, we help them with that. I think you need to be able to provide what the person needs.
We have a couple of single mothers with children on our route. We help them as much as we can. When we have baked goods, we make sure to bring cookies for the kids. Another of our clients is always looking out for us and telling us to hydrate because it’s hot in Florida. There’s another little lady who lives by herself, and we always talk about her plants. She’s a dear. One woman usually sits outside, waiting for us to “chit-chat.” And, we have a big bond with the woman who plays the classical music. She volunteers, too, and she’s really bright and very interesting. We will do anything for her. She’s called me at home to see if I could help her with things. I think that’s how you have to look at the people you serve — they are worth whatever you can do for them.
Why do you feel volunteering in general is so important?
I don’t believe you can save the whole world, but I do believe I can do something for my part of the world. This is what I love, and I plan to do this as long as possible. In my volunteer service, I’ve met some of the most wonderful people from all walks of life. Some are in difficult situations, but they all have stories to tell. All of them want to be heard and treated like a human being. We all need to be appreciated for who we are.
Not all of these things from my service with the soup kitchen seem huge. I feel I am just a spoke in the wheel. But, doing this enriches my soul, and I hope it enriches others. Volunteering offers you an opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, and by volunteering, you bring a little joy to someone. In that way, I think you’ve succeeded.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Victoria? Visit All For Good to find local volunteer opportunities.