Ron Albrecht is a devoted husband and loving father to three children and recently retired from Simpson College after 38 years. While at Simpson he taught Music Theory 1 and 2, Discovery Music, History of Rock and Roll, and piano lessons. Interacting with Simpson students and faculty is something he will miss most as he embarks upon a new chapter in life, a chapter that includes volunteering at Meals from the Heartland (MFTH). We had a chance to visit with Ron and he shared why he chose Meals to be a part of his retirement activities.
How did you first get involved with MFTH and how long have you been an active volunteer? I was introduced to MFTH around the year 2013 when they visited Simpson for a mobile hunger fighting event as part of the College’s orientation program. My class participated and I was struck by how fun and engaging this type of service project could be. And when I learned that these meals primarily benefited children, something near and dear to me, I became intrigued. Volunteerism has always been an important part of my adult life and when I retired I decided to ramp it up a bit and that’s when I got more actively involved with MFTH.
What is your primary volunteer role and what is it about that role that keeps you coming back? My primary volunteer role at Meals is Pack Master. That role was the one they were in need of when I inquired. As a Pack Master I focus on helping the volunteer packagers get started at their table and I ensure they understand the packaging process from beginning to end. Once all tables are trained I help where needed whether that’s quality control or stacking finished boxes or whatever is needed in the moment. I like to stay busy and there’s no shortage of things to do in this role. One perk of this role is I get to see and meet a lot of people and it’s fun to run across some past students who stay engaged with MFTH. Working with great people to help children is what keeps me coming back.
Describe the atmosphere here at MFTH during a volunteer shift. The packaging center is upbeat, fun, and the camaraderie is great. The Meals staff are great to work with. People come to serve others but at the same time they’re here to have a great time. I’m impressed with the corporate groups that participate and it’s great to see the team-building that’s occurring. And seeing a lot of youth groups there is impressive as well because getting them engaged in service at their age is important. The icing on the cake is that they play classic rock and it doesn’t get any better than that!
Why do you keep coming back? I’m a repeat volunteer because I like being part of a service activity that is very hands on and you’re making a direct impact on families and children in need. It’s a very positive experience and the time goes by very quickly.
What would you say to someone who has never heard of MFTH and our mission? I would definitely encourage others to come check us out. There is a high level of execution in a very fun and engaging environment. The employees and volunteers are committed to the Meal’s mission and it’s very rewarding to be a part of that.
How do you feel at the end of your volunteer shift? I feel good! I feed off of the positive energy in the room and it’s very contagious. I love the sense of accomplishment you feel at the end of your shift. I’m not tired at all and as a matter of fact I’m uplifted knowing I was part of helping others in need. This is a very worthy way to spend a few hours out of my day.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your involvement with Meals from the Heartland? For me, the most rewarding thing is working and engaging with others towards a common goal, of feeding a hungry child. That’s the bottom line and what keeps me coming back.
On behalf of Meals from the Heartland and all we serve, a big thanks to Ron for his heart and his willingness to serve.