The holiday season is upon us, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner– a day for celebrating our friendships, spending time with our families, and taking time out of our busy lives to stop and give thanks. Yes, watching the game while simultaneously enjoying a delicious, home cooked meal is definitely one of the highlights of Thanksgiving, gratitude is the driving force behind this holiday. Many people show give thanks by giving back to our communities however we can. Today we’d like to thank one of our amazing volunteers, Patrick Sigler, an active volunteer with Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes.
This Thanksgiving, Patrick is taking over as the primary chef to prepare the Thanksgiving meal for the community. Patrick has worked in the food services industry for 35 years, and owned a restaurant of his own in Capitola. He has also previously worked with various assisted living facilities, and was the culinary director for Monte Vista Christian School; Patrick only recently retired and now devotes his time to volunteerism at Loaves and Fishes. He first became interested in Loaves and Fishes through a good friend who worked with the organization, and considered working in a kitchen to be the perfect opportunity for him given his culinary background.
PV Loaves and Fishes aims to provide healthy, balanced meals to members of the community who might not have access to them otherwise. Patrick comes in every Tuesday and Thursday and assists the main chef, often cooking the main meal and side dishes if needed. Patrick glad to be a part of an organization that performs such a tremendous service for the local community stating,
“It’s great to give back to some of our community members who are not as privileged as others might be. I enjoy prepping quality, healthy food for others; we use fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid including any desserts to keep the meal as nutritious as possible. People might not be able to find healthy meals elsewhere, so it’s great to see that we can make that a little bit more accessible. Having been in food service for 35 years, it is nice to be able to give back. I have past experience to bring to PV Loaves and Fishes that others might not have– I can come in and teach the other chefs something they might not know, and they can teach me things, and in the end, we collectively put out a great product.”
Patrick believes that volunteering has led to many changes in himself as well. He finds himself to be more sympathetic towards the homeless and otherwise underprivileged than he might have been before. He explained, “I’ve actually gotten to know a lot of the people who come in. There was one person I sat down with and actually had a good conversation with, and I was just blown away by his depth. I didn’t expect to get to know the folks who come through and actually make friends through PV Loaves and Fishes, so I really enjoy being here and learning not only from the chefs, but from everyone who comes in to eat.”
For Patrick, the most rewarding part of volunteering is getting positive feedback from people who come through PV Loaves and Fishes. “It comes down to the satisfaction of creating and presenting a product that is healthy, balanced, and will get a lot of these people through the rest of their day,” he explained. He finds the most challenging aspect of volunteering to be interacting responsibly with the community. People of all sorts of backgrounds come through, and it is crucial to interact in a way that helps and never hinders.
“Preparing a meal– that’s the easy part. I can get the whole thing done, I have many times before. But the people, that’s the real challenge. It’s important to come across in a positive way that benefits everyone.”
If you’re interested in volunteering take Patrick’s advice, “Come on down and check it out!” Most social service organizations are composed of dedicated individuals who aspire to better the community as much as possible. By giving just a few hours of his time every week Patrick has made a big difference in our community and in the lives of many people.
For more information about Loaves and Fishes and how to get involved, visit http://www.pvloavesandfishes.org/
For additional opportunities this holiday season, visit http://www.scvolunteernow.org/