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LSS Volunteers: Elise's Story of Growth and Friendship

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

When it comes to making a difference in the world, volunteering is often the path that leads to meaningful change. Elise,16, of Jacksonville, discovered this firsthand during her summer break when she started volunteering at the LSS Food Pantry, a service provided by Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida (LSS). What began as a simple act of giving back soon turned into an experience that left a lasting impact on both Elise and her mother, Courtney.

LSS Food Pantry Assistant Manger Ronnie Wilson and Elise smile for the camera after distributing food for families.

Courtney said Elise was nervous on her first day of volunteering at the food pantry. She described her daughter as introverted, and she questioned how well her daughter would adjust to the new environment.

Upon their arrival at LSS, Elise and Courtney were warmly welcomed by James Perrigan, Hunger Relief Director, and Ronnie Wilson, the Food Pantry Manager, along with pantry volunteers for that day. Courtney believed that this would be a good fit for her daughter, but she was still hesitant about how Elise would respond.

The moment of truth came when Courtney returned to pick up Elise a few hours later. When Courtney arrived, she found her daughter with a huge smile. “I walked back to the pantry and found my child glowing, beaming a huge smile, comfortable, included, useful, satisfied, proud, joyful...the list could keep going and these are the things I noticed,” Courtney said.

Ronnie and James were happy to hear about Elise's experience and invited her to volunteer the next day. Elise accepted, and so started her summer-long journey of volunteering.

“I felt very anxious when my mom first dropped me off here,” Elise said. “I have a very hard time meeting new people, and it can be very difficult. But I know that here people are very welcoming, and it's easy to feel right at home. Ronnie and James are so much fun!”

Helping others is Elise’s favorite part of volunteering at the food pantry. “It's nice to see that we are helping people who need it. Seeing all those people that are happy because they are able to get food here.” Elise hopes to volunteer at the food pantry next summer, and throughout the year when she’s available.

The food pantry is a service provided by Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida (LSS), where it currently feeds over 2,000 households each month

If you are looking for a way to make a difference in your community, consider volunteering at LSS. It's an opportunity to be part of a supportive and caring community that can change lives, just as it did for Elise. Click here for more information and get ready to make a difference that will leave you feeling "joyful" too.

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