U-Haul Volunteers Feed the Hungry at André House

When people in Phoenix experiencing homelessness come to André House, they find a welcoming space where they can receive free hot meals, showers, laundry services and other resources to help them get back on their feet.

As a longtime charity partner, U-Haul contributes to André House in a variety of ways. Whether it’s through a donation drive at U-Haul facilities, or official event where volunteers prepare and serve dinner at André House, Team Members are proud to help this Arizona nonprofit meet the ongoing needs of the community.

Recently, U-Haul participated in a donation drive and a volunteer day at André House, where volunteers cooked and served delicious Mexican food to people in need of dinner.

U-Haul International has been headquartered in Phoenix since 1967 and supports charities that help people meet their most basic human needs, including food, clothing and shelter.

“Service makes me happy”

Prior to the volunteer day, Team Members collected goods that André House requested, including reusable water bottles, blankets, shampoo and conditioner. Once a U-Haul cargo van with these and other items was delivered, the volunteers began prepping burritos, beans, rice, salad and brownies for the incoming dinner rush.

Michelle Vukov-Mikel, U-Haul Technical Center administrative assistant, is a frequent André House volunteer. One of the things that she loves most is how no two volunteer days are ever the same.

“Whenever I help with dinner, I could be slicing vegetables in the food-prep area, interacting with guests in the serving line, washing and drying dishes, or any number of other things,” Vukov-Mikel said.

“If I had to pick the most rewarding part of volunteering at André House, it would be getting to know the guests. Everyone is so thankful for the free meals. You see how much the food means to them. It feels incredible to know that you’re helping to make life easier for people who are going through difficult times. I love volunteering here so much, that I do it both on my own and through U-Haul. Service makes me happy. There are people throughout the Phoenix area who face food insecurity and homelessness, so I’m grateful that Andre House can be a safe haven and support for them.”

Worth Every Minute

Saundra Cotton, a U-Haul account representative, believes in people’s capacity to change the world. When she learned about U-Haul-sponsored volunteer opportunities at André House, she knew that she had to get involved.

Saundra Cotton prepares dessert at Andre House

“I live on the other side of town from André House, so it wasn’t easy to find the time to drive out here, volunteer and drive back,” Cotton said. “But it was absolutely worth it. The guests are so polite and appreciative, and seeing their smiles makes you feel like you’ve made a significant impact.”

As a designated “pico-de-gallo prepper” at the recent volunteer event, Cotton enjoyed slicing and dicing onions, tomatoes and peppers to make a savory burrito topping. As she and her fellow volunteers worked, one of the nonprofit’s staff members shared a message that will stay with her forever.

“He read a short poem that he liked about equality and working toward a better world,” Cotton said. “The message of the poem was that if we all want a society where no one needs homeless shelters or free meals, and where injustice is a thing of the past, we have to be the change we want to see. It was so beautiful and heartfelt that it almost brought me to tears. No one ever said that volunteering would be easy, but the most worthwhile things in life never are. I encourage everyone who can to volunteer with André House at least once. If you’re anything like me, you’ll love it right away.”

Click here to read more about previous U-Haul volunteer events at André House.

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