Staff Spotlights

Our staff is dedicated to serving our community


Below are just a few of our incredible staff, their stories and why they chose St. Mary's Food Bank.


Josue


Operations at St. Mary's Surprise location

"You’re feeding the community and at the end of the day, people that come here are going to have food and won’t go hungry. We don’t know what they’re going through but we smile and provide. Like our missions says, we provide more than food but hope. We are here to help the community."

Meet Josue

What do you do at St. Mary’s Food Bank?

I do a lot, each day is different but when I come into work I unload trailers, sort the food, and support volunteers who come to help us at the food bank. I unload food items that need to be in our coolers like meats and dairy and explain to volunteers how many of each item we give out. I do quality control and make sure the food is still good to give out. The way I was trained is to ‘cover down’ (knowing and being able to do other staff jobs), so I also do client intake and run carts if needed. We do a lot here in Surprise.

How long have you worked at St. Mary’s Food Bank?

Eight months.

Tell me about you.

I’m originally from California but have lived in Arizona for 26 years. At 18, I went to the military and served for six years. Right now, I am going to school for computer science at Grand Canyon University and am on track to graduate in 2023. With computer science, you’re creating something, and I enjoy that part. You’re helping others create and computers come easy for me. The military taught me disciple and that helps with my schooling right now. You have to go above and beyond and sometimes do things you don’t want to do. It’s something small but it makes a huge difference in the long run. Those steps will take you far. I work hard, I come in here and have a great attitude and people see that. I believe energy rubs off. There are a lot of staff at St. Mary’s that deserve a spotlight, it’s not just me, it’s a team effort and they come in here and kill it every day. They have a great attitude and smile and serve the community and it feels great.

What is it like working with the community?

I was hired to do client intake and I worked more directly with clients at our Phoenix distribution center. Here in Surprise, we get more time to interact with clients because here we do a walk-up model. I always ask, “How is you day?” and they respond, “a lot better since I am here.” They tell me, “We have food now, the kids are going to be able to eat” and that feels amazing. We see kids get excited about the food that they are receiving, and I see them snacking on the food as they leave, it brings a smile to your face. You’re feeding the community and you know that at the end of the day people that came here are going to have food and won’t go hungry. The kids will eat and it’s an amazing feeling. We don’t know what they’re going through but we smile and provide, like our missions says, “we provide more than food but hope.” We are here to help the community.

What is it like working at St. Mary’s Food Bank Surprise location?

They were short staffed at Surprise when I was first hired. I went to fill in and I got there and saw they needed help and told them whatever needs to be done I’ll do. Off the bat, I loved working at the Surprise location because the need is great here. One thing I look for in a job is growth and a challenge. I love to grow. When I came to Surprise, there was a lot for me to learn. This is a perfect place for me because I get to do a little bit of everything. Whatever needs to get done. If we had a motto here, it would be whatever needs to get done let’s do it, and that’s what I love about Surprise.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Working with the volunteers. You don’t know who you will work with each day. We have different volunteers every day and we also have our regular volunteers. You get to build relationships with and show them what we do and how they help. I love to see them taking responsibility over their roles and a lot of times they excel, and I can give them more things to do that help us. Volunteers do multiple jobs, and we rely on them to accomplish the mission of St. Mary’s Food Bank.

What initially brought you to St. Mary’s for work?

I used to work security when I was in the military, so I was hired to do security at St. Mary’s Food Bank Phoenix distribution center. Fun fact: I was the first security guard to work at the Knight Center. I didn’t know a lot about St. Mary’s at the time, but I began to see how they were having a positive effect on the community. This is a job that has purpose, it’s fulfilling. You can see the joy and happiness you bring to people when they come in and are given food. It’s a very rewarding job. When I left the military I had another job, but it didn’t feel rewarding. I would come to work, do the time and leave. I wanted a job that made me feel good, that challenged me.

How do you feel being recognized for Staff Spotlight?

It makes you feel appreciated and when you’re working at a job that your leadership recognizes you, it makes you feel worth it and part of a good organization and I love that. It gives you the energy to keep going. They see the work you’re doing to make sure the community is fed. It’s rejuvenating and keep me working hard to accomplish the mission.

Anything else you want to share?

I want to shoutout everyone who mentored me along the way I wouldn’t be here without them … Scott, Frank, Mina, Veronica, Venny, Phillip and George. I appreciate all their help.

Jessica


Area Agency Coordinator at St. Mary's Flagstaff location

"Moving from our metro phoenix team to our rural services team it has been striking how much people in resource limited areas, they do things with a lot of heart. There may not be much else available to them but the things they make happen and the reasons they do it is incredible. "

Meet Jessica

What do you do at St. Mary’s Food Bank?

My role is to support our partner organization and help them in training for our government programs and getting them the services they need. My service area is Coconino and Yavapai area, so I serve partners within those two areas. I make sure they have the food they need, and the information they need to participate. I visit and offer them technical support or if they’re in need of equipment. We have capacity grants they may qualify for so I can support them in that. Sharing best practices between organizations and connect them with one another. Moving from our metro phoenix team to our rural services team it has been striking how much people in resource limited areas, they do things with a lot of heart. There may not be much else available to them but the things they make happen and the reasons they do it is incredible.

How long have you worked at St. Mary’s Food Bank?

I started as an intern in the summer of 2016, during was my junior year of college. I came back the following summer and interned again. Shortly after that I started with the Child Nutrition team as staff. From there I was with the Backpack Program as the Coordinator for three years and about a year and a half ago I moved up to Flagstaff to be the Area Agency Coordinator.

What initially brought you to St. Mary’s Food Bank?

I always wanted to work in the non-profit sector and that summer I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back to Phoenix in the summer. But I saw the position listing and I knew what a great organization St. Mary’s was growing up in the Valley. So, when I was offered the position, it was really hard to pass up. I want to add, my boss Terra at the time, gave me a ride to work every single day for the first three years of the job because I didn’t have a reliable car and there are not many people that caring and will take you under their wing in that way. The people you work with in the organization, and outside of the organization are incredible. It doesn’t feel like a day of work.

What is it like working with rural communities in northern Arizona?

In a metropolitan area there is a lot more access to services. In rural areas, there are less grant opportunities, corporate partners to turn to for support and funding, so we try to offer as much as we can and support any areas of need our partners have. We recognize that the leaders of these partners are hosting these distributions because their families need these services as well. There is no organization in the community to do it, they are the only people there. Seeing their commitment, resilience, and innovation, has blown me away. When I started in this role it was mid pandemic and it was striking to me when case numbers were high our partners stayed open and adjusted and continued on. Most of the organizations I work with don’t have paid staff and are really trying to stretch resources. I’ve been excited to be having conversations about how we can bring back services to support each other in person again. Getting back to not just meeting the immediate food need but the holistic services.

Tell me about you.

Work is a big part of my life but living up in the mountains here in Flagstaff I love hiking and being outside whenever I can. I like traveling, cooking, especially baking. I’ve got to explore the Grand Canyon some and here in Flag I love that you can just walk into the forest and just go through the neighborhood and end up in the forest. The seasons are beautiful here.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The people. Some of our partners, when they approach me with a new idea, and we get to brainstorm together for how to fill a need. I get to visit them to help with the technical planning, taking measurements and going and seeing it in action, I love it! They tell me what they want, and I support them any way I can. I’m always inspired by our team members and how committed they are to helping each other and our community. It’s reenergizing every single day. I want to add, my boss Terra at the time, gave me a ride to work every single day for the first three years when I started because I didn’t have a reliable car and there are not many people that caring and will take you under their wing in that way.

How do you feel being recognized for Staff Spotlight?

Honestly, I am so surprised and honored. If you need more nominations, I have a list. I am really grateful to be a part of such an amazing team.

Phillip


Operations at St. Mary's Phoenix Distribution Center

"On those tough days, hearing the clients say, “wow you fed us so much food!” You’re helping a family in need, it’s one of the best parts of my job. It gets me out of bed every day. I get to work and see the regulars and seeing their smile and hearing them call me by name. It’s a good feeling."

Meet Phillip

What do you do at St. Mary’s Food Bank?

My main responsibility is client intake. I am responsible for taking the client’s (individuals that come to St. Mary’s Food Bank for food support) information, their name, date of birth and how many times they’ve been to us for food boxes. My main function is to review their profile and serve them food. I also make sure to specify is they are a senior, because that impacts the type of food box they receive. It’s my job to review the information, write it on their windshield and move on to the next person. Based on my military experience I could go do many things, but I stay here for the people. They really need food. Right now, we are averaging 700-800 clients served a day. If we don’t function, that’s 800 families a day that wouldn’t have food. If we don’t go to work or we don’t show up, that’s 800 people a day in our community that don’t get fed. Every day we have clients that we serve, and on the days where I don’t feel like getting out of bed, it’s because of them I get up in the morning, they need food.

How long have you worked at St. Mary’s Food Bank?

Two years.

Tell me about you.

I was born and raised in Phoenix Arizona, graduated high school, and went straight into the military. I was in the marine corps, two tours in Iraq one in Afghanistan and did officer candidate school. I left the military to pursue education, I wanted to be a math teacher. I started doing the numbers (no pun intended) and realized it wasn’t going to work out. I realized I didn’t want to be a math teacher, but rather be somewhere where I could influence and make a positive impact on people’s lives. I think that’s how I ended up at St. Mary’s Food Bank, because St. Mary’s was always here when I was a kid. It brought me home. Growing up we weren’t financially stable, always moving houses and homes, and St. Mary’s was always there for us. When we didn’t have food, we had the food box. It had the peanut butter and I looked forward to that as a kid. I’ve been there when you don’t have food and you’re hungry, and today It helps me to better serve those that need it. It’s a good feeling.

What is it like working with the community?

St. Mary’s Food Bank is a workplace where we don’t judge. A lot of times when I’m doing intake no matter what car you drive, what your wearing, what you look like St. Mary’s doesn’t care. They care about one thing, and that’s making sure you have food. I hear the clients on a daily basis say, “hey, you’re doing a good job. You’re helping us through tough times.” I feel like sometimes you need to hear that. It enforces that we are doing a good job. We are here to help anyone that needs food. It’s a judge free zone. You drive up, you’re going to get food.

What initially brought you to St. Mary’s for work?

I started off as security and from there I worked in the warehouse. Duties and responsibilities changed a little bit. I was responsible for inventory of food and general maintenance and upkeep and unloading the trucks. After that, I moved around outside (at our Phoenix distribution center), did client intake and the walk-up line which takes care of our individuals experiencing homelessness and transient individuals. We have a saying in the marine corps, ‘iron sharpens iron’ so everyone gets a little piece of everyone’s job, and it helps us relate. I feel like I ended up in client intake because I get face to face interactions every day. I always say step out of your comfort zone because I think we get complacent and it’s good to see the perspective of what you do on a day to day. No matter how small someone thinks their job is, it’s not.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Everyone here at St. Mary’s staff is amazing, we all tend to learn from one another. We treat each other like family. When my dad passed away, the staff was very supportive here. On those tough days, hearing the clients saying, “wow you fed us so much food.” You’re helping a family in need, it’s one of the best parts of my job. It gets me out of bed every day. I get to work and see the regulars and seeing their smile and hearing them call me by name. It’s a good feeling. At the end of the day, we value our clients and provide food for them. Staff in the warehouse, staff outside, any St. Mary’s staff for that matter, I think it’s very important they understand how vital their role is.

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