- Volunteering at the Saddleback PEACE Center
Often times, when people serve the community the people that are serving actually gain more than the people being served. So was my experience at The PEACE Center at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest. To be honest, when I closed my orthodontics office in Irvine for a morning to do community service, I just wanted my staff to have a team building exercise where we could be more outwardly focused. Even though we were only present for a short morning shift, our experience ended up really affecting me.
It was amazing to see the devoted volunteers and all the services that they provide at the Saddleback PEACE Center. My staff and I started off by helping stock the food pantry and getting everything ready for the families to come in for their groceries. We were then matched with more experienced volunteers to become personal “shoppers” for those who came in. We went down each aisle of the food pantry with them to choose their food items and helped them out with their fresh groceries. People were able to shop with absolutely no questions asked other than how many family members they needed to provide for to ensure that they would leave with enough. At the PEACE Center, as long as they are in need, they are more than welcome to be there.
These volunteer shoppers helped guide the families not only with food selections, but also by engaging with them to help them in any way they can as far as prayers, support groups, and trying to build relationships. It was truly an inspiring experience.
For me, it was refreshing to see that people were being taken care of with no questions asked. I was never aware of such a service available to the community. It was touching to see the interactions and the care that people gave to complete strangers. Being a health professional and orthodontist in Irvine, I can get caught in my little Orange County bubble and am unaware of the needs of the surrounding communities. There is a huge need out there, and I am so thankful to know that there are organizations helping those in need.
My staff and I will be back volunteering at The PEACE Center regularly. It is the least that we can do! We are currently collecting non-perishable food at our office to support them as well and we will match each donation. Please stop by Simply Orthodontics in Irvine and help support the Saddleback Church PEACE Center Food Pantry!
For more information, please visit their website. They also provide other services such as medical services, homework assistance, private tutoring, computer skills workshops, and healthy living workshops.
If you are inspired to volunteer, please contact Joanne Williamson at JoanneW@saddleback.com.