Volunteer Spotlight: Scott Kramer
By Megan Hanson, volunteer writer
Editor’s Note: We are grateful for all of our volunteers at MOM! As part of Volunteer Appreciation Week, we’re sharing this volunteer spotlight. Please note that this was written pre-COVID. There have been some changes to programs during COVID.
When did you start volunteering at MOM and why?
I started volunteering at MOM 20 years ago. At the time, I was trying to pick a nonprofit to volunteer with. I talked with a lot of neighbors and friends. A deciding factor for me was that I could tell MOM staff believed strongly that their clients should be treated with compassion. I think all of us volunteers feel we can get so much mileage out of our hours with MOM, much more than we could if we were working alone as a volunteer. It’s genuinely compassionate service and they value their volunteers. They’re constantly trying to find ways to thank their volunteers for their service.
I work in the Food Pantry and I’m also a driver for the Seniors Program. My first days in the pantry were in the basement of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. There were really only two of us volunteering then and we were only open two afternoons per week. But every year it grew and grew, and now the location on Parmenter Street is by far the biggest and best equipped location.
What do you like about MOM?
I think MOM is an exceptionally well managed food pantry. It’s the only pantry where the clients can come back as often as every day. Those who aren’t registered can still go to go to the office to apply, and if they need food, we’ll give it to them. We don’t turn anybody away. It’s non-judgmental. If people say they have a need, then they have a need. It’s a very friendly approach to service throughout.
Let’s talk about driving seniors. The people who use our senior services need to be elderly or over 60 years old. My next birthday is 80, so I would qualify! A lot of the clients we take are widows or widowers. Many had their own home, but lost it for one reason or another, so they’re back into rental properties. The kids tell them they shouldn’t be driving anymore, so they don’t have a car. They are so grateful for some personal care by somebody that appreciates their needs. I’ve made a lot of friendships that way, because it’s one-on-one in the car.
Do you have any stories from your time volunteering with MOM that you’d like to share?
After about 4-5 years of driving I got pretty close to a gentleman in Middleton who had severe diabetes. His name was Clarence. He ended up having to go into a nursing home. We’d become close enough that he would ask me to come and visit with him.
Clarence didn’t have a university degree, but he became an expert in the production and distribution of milk. He traveled the state doing that. He invented the Grade A system, the way we now grade milk! We would spend hours talking about his life, and he would spend hours asking me questions about other cultures and international stuff. I’ve done business in more than 40 countries, on every continent. I have so many stories of cultural differences!
Eventually he had his foot amputated because of diabetes. Not long after that he had to have the other one amputated, and it wasn’t too long after that that he asked me if I would write his obituary. So we talked about it, and I put together an obituary. Three days before he died was the last time I talked to him and he asked me to give the eulogy at his funeral. Talk about helping people.
Throughout your life, you have lots of opportunities to meet and help people. And the beauty for me is that I’m able to do it.
If someone asked you whether they should volunteer for MOM, what would you say to them?
I’d say, ‘What took you so long to get smart?!’ I’m constantly encouraging my neighbors to try volunteering. For me, service to others at this stage of my life is almost an obligation. I’ve been so blessed over the years and I enjoy giving back.
Please correct the validation errors above.