RSVP Volunteer Makes it his Mission to Help Feed the Hungry

Feeding the needy has become the passion of one Kaukauna man who volunteers weekly at three nonprofit agencies focusing on hunger relief.

Every Friday, Ray Driessen sorts canned and dry goods in the staples area at St. Joseph Food Program in Menasha. He also helps distribute food to clients.

RSVP member, Ray Driessen (left) of Kaukauna and Dave Kolosso of Appleton sort food donations at St. Joseph Food Program in Menasha.

“The biggest thing is giving back to the community,” he said. “You can really tell that they need assistance. It’s also the social aspect of getting together with people and getting a little exercise.”

Driessen is a member of the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). He is among 32 RSVP volunteers who serve to combat hunger in our community. They register clients at food banks, sort donations and prepare and serve meals. In 2017, they served a total of 2,447 hours at various agencies.

When Driessen retired 14 years ago, he researched several nonprofits and decided on St. Joe’s.

“It’s a good organization,” he said. “It is run well and they do a lot of good for the community.”

Leah Thibodeau, volunteer  engagement leader, said St. Joe’s serves about 700 families each week at the Menasha location and another 300 families through the agency’s Alliance Pantry program.

She said about 5,000 people benefit from their pantry services each week. The agency also provides food for its local partner agencies, such as the Fox Valley Warming Shelter, Homeless Connections, Harbor House, Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services and Loaves & Fishes. The agency’s average distribution is close to 20,000 pounds of food each week.

Driessen also volunteers at a Kaukauna food pantry, Loaves and Fishes, which is located in Little Chute. He uses the agency’s van to pick up produce on Monday, and then comes back to the agency to sort the food. On Tuesday, he helps distribute it to clients.

He and his wife, Judy, also volunteer for Meals on Wheels once a week. The couple picks up the meals from St. Paul Elder Services and delivers them to about six homes in Kimberly and Combined Locks. The agency provides about 150 meals a week to the community.

“I usually drive and Judy takes them in to the clients,” he said. They appreciate the fact that you’re there to help them. You see some who are in wheelchairs.”

Kay Fitzgerald, the volunteer coordinator at the agency said the couple is dependable.

“They are always ready to pitch in and help with whatever we ask of them,” she said. “St. Paul Elder Services is fortunate to have them both as volunteers!”