Judith Biery is a volunteer with Bounty & Soul. The nonprofit provides free produce markets and wellness education to the residents of Western North Carolina.
What inspired you to volunteer, and what is your role?
I’ve been volunteering with the organization for about a year, and I do a bit of whatever needs to be done. I help in the kitchen or at the market, work with the local programs, and clean, paint and garden, among other things. I joined because I think it’s vital to provide high-quality, healthy food to our community without bias. I also appreciate that Bounty & Soul offers educational resources to help people become stewards of their own health and the health of their families.
What have you learned about the individuals you serve?
Ali Casparian, who started Bounty and Soul almost 10 years ago, is a force of nature and a great human. The Bounty & Soul team is smart, capable and committed. There is a unique fellowship here that I haven’t experienced elsewhere.
Working with the food-insecure community has been eye-opening. It’s easy to assume that food insecurity exists solely in low-income populations, but it’s more complicated than that. Healthy, fresh food is difficult to access for more people than you might realize, and money isn’t the only barrier. For example, we are able to support many individuals with health challenges who see positive results after learning to adjust their cooking and eating habits. Bounty & Soul provides an effective combination of information and ingredients.
What’s been the greatest reward in volunteering?
I get to do work that is both enjoyable and valuable to the community. I’ve also been able to connect with like-minded volunteers and others in the organization who have become cherished friends. I love to interact with and learn from the people I work alongside and the community members we serve. I feel respected and appreciated for my contributions.
What advice would you offer those thinking about volunteering?
In my experience, giving is so much more fulfilling than getting. Do a little bit of research and then jump in wherever you think you can help. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.