Located in a bustling section of Phoenix, André House serves hundreds of people each day who are currently experiencing homelessness. The nonprofit generously provides a variety of resources to help people get back on their feet, including free hot meals, drinking water and showers.
One of the hallmarks of André House is the dinner service, which is offered six nights weekly to all in need. As a longtime André House charity partner, U-Haul Team Members volunteer to help prepare and serve these dinners. In addition, U-Haul, which has been headquartered in Phoenix since 1967, also holds donation drives for André House at Company facilities across the Valley.
Recently, U-Haul Team Members helped cook and serve dinner to more than 400 André House guests.
“This was my first time volunteering at André House, and it was a great experience for me,” said Stan Fresquez, U-Haul Hitch Central agent. “The staff and the guests were all so nice. Many of them had interesting stories.
“Before the dinner started, I helped chop bell peppers and clean up the dining area. Once the guests started arriving, I was responsible for the food trays: making sure that the serving line always had enough, that everyone was handling them properly, etc. It made me sad to see so many people coming in and needing food. But at the same time, I was proud that I was able to do something on their behalf.”
After his experience at André House, Fresquez has a whole new appreciation for the work that nonprofit organizations do.
“There is so much that goes into putting events like this dinner together, from getting the supplies, to cooking and serving, and cleaning up after hundreds of people,” Fresquez added. “It helped me see volunteering’s real-life impact in a whole new light. I’m grateful for organizations like André House that care about the communities they serve, and that give their all to help improve people’s lives.”
Joy of volunteering
U-Haul administrative assistant Michelle Vukov-Mikel has been a frequent and enthusiastic André House volunteer for years. She often volunteers there outside of scheduled U-Haul events.
“I’ve volunteered with André House ever since U-Haul first partnered with them, and it’s always been very gratifying,” Vukov-Mikel said. “I feel truly fortunate to have everything I do in life, and to be able to help people who have fallen on tough times. Whether I’m chopping, cutting and peeling ingredients for the meal of the day, or serving food and exchanging pleasantries with the guests, spending time at André House brings me joy.”
Through her many volunteering experiences with André House, Vukov-Mikel has met new Team Members and gained lifelong friends.
“I introduced U-Haul Truck/Trailer development specialist Michele Ramirez to André House a while ago, and she absolutely loved it,” Vukov-Mikel added. “We are now ‘volunteer buddies.’ We frequently volunteer with André House and other U-Haul charity partners.
“If you’re interested in volunteering, just do it. For U-Haul Team Members like Michele and I, it’s a perfect way to expand your social circle and get to know coworkers outside of the office. Even more importantly, you get to give back to a worthy cause and help make the world a better place through your service. You won’t regret it.”
To read about other U-Haul volunteer events at Andre House, click here.