By Ashley Hackett, Open Arms Photojournalism Intern
It’s Wednesday morning, and above the Open Arms kitchen Tom Becker sits quietly typing at a computer. As a passionate volunteer and advocate for the HIV/AIDS community since the late 1980s, Tom wanted to continue his efforts after his retirement. Ten years ago, he began giving his time as an administrative volunteer at Open Arms of Minnesota and has been part of the OAM family ever since.
“In the early 90s I had a couple of friends who were diagnosed with AIDS, and they told me about all of these meals that they had delivered to them,” recalled Tom. “I remembered seeing the meals and thinking that they were really tasty and healthy – later I found out that they were the meals from Open Arms.”
Tom volunteered for the Minnesota AIDS Project in the 1980s, and wanted to continue working in the same area after retirement. As he recalled his friends’ meals from Open Arms, he realized that this might be just the place he was looking for.
“My previous job was a Target Corporate Trainer, so my skill-set was mostly dealing with administrative work,” Tom said. He began helping the Open Arms staff with a variety of office tasks.
Ten years later, he’s still giving his time, working on projects like development database support and system implementation. “Every day is different,” he said. “It just depends on where the greatest need is.”
Tom even goes on meal delivery from time to time when the need is great. One of his favorite memories, in fact, was during a Thanksgiving delivery.
“My husband Kyle and I took meals to several different families and delivered them on the morning of Thanksgiving. They were just so appreciative, and it was so great to see that and to be able to do that for them,” Tom commented. “And the times when I have done regular delivery, clients have always just been so nice and gracious.”
Tom said that the thing that has kept him here for so long is simply the cause behind everything that Open Arms does. Sometimes administrative work can feel far from the direct mission of an organization, but Tom sees the direct link to Open Arms’ service.
“Just knowing that because of whatever I do – and whatever anyone does here – we are helping people to get food and nourishment. It’s such a basic need, and I’m just glad I can do whatever I can to help,” Tom said. “We see the healthy food that we’re giving to sick clients, and we see many of the people get better after going through their treatment and eating the nutritious food. It’s amazing.”
Thanks to dedicated volunteers like Tom, Open Arms is able to continuing growing and nourishing more clients than ever. You can help make our mission possible, too!
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