April is Volunteer Appreciation Month: Mindy and Sebastian Present a Dynamic Mother-Son Duo at the Diaper Distribution
By Maureen McNair
Sebastian Hochgesang is 9 years old now and a veteran volunteer at the South Bay Food Pantry and Diaper & Period Products Program. Sebastian began volunteering with his mother, Mindy Hochgesang, in 2019 in what was then the Sunday morning free diaper distribution program. One Sunday a month or so, and often on Sundays that fell on a holiday, Sebastian and his mom volunteered together to give away free diapers for babies from 8:15 - 9:15 AM. Mindy explains their volunteer gig gelled for them after three things aligned. She heard from friends who already volunteered at the pantry “how meaningful it was for them as a family.” Plus, Mindy says, “I had gone to the Social Justice week at Camp de Benneville in summer 2019 (it was a goal of mine to increase my social justice involvement) and I was looking for practical ways to do that -- one that ﬁt in with my life (single working mother) and provided a meaningful opportunity for my son Sebastian (who is now 9) - it's really hard to ﬁnd volunteer opportunities that meaningfully involve kids.”
Eventually covid became a factor in their decision to volunteer because there were not as many factors as volunteering at a place such as a soup kitchen. Mindy recently took over facilitating the entire diaper and period products program. That work involves making sure all the volunteer shifts are filled and the diapers and period products are ordered and delivered. “We love volunteering at the diaper pantry,” Mindy says. “It has provided us with a very human connection to many people in our San Diego (especially South Bay) community.”
One of the highlights of volunteering, Mindy said, is, “We have gotten to know many of the clients over time -- their names, and their stories. It is a visible reminder of the struggle many families face (and in the case of the diaper pantry -- many grandparents play in their family and grandchildren's life).” Mindy says some clients “share some of the struggles (e.g. people coming to the diaper pantry from the night shift, or having to wake kids up early to make it in time, or catching a ride with a neighbor, or having to walk from the trolley station to the diaper pantry).” Clients, she said, “express enormous gratitude for the diaper (and now menstrual hygiene) products.”
Sebastian is so fortunate to be living into our mission to act on our values to help heal the world by engaging in hands on social justice work every month. And, after their shift, I hear he also engages in a rewarding trip for a yummy treat with his mom.
As ever, thank you for your generosity that makes these programs possible.
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