September Volunteer of the Month – Lori Laliberte
Every office has that one person: that one go-to volunteer or staff member who is always willing to take on a new role or to help someone else who has an overloaded schedule. At New American Pathways, for the last year and a half, that person has been Lori Laliberte.
Lori has been volunteering with New American Pathways since early 2014, and since then has been supporting our new arrivals in multiple ways – working in our Clothing Closet, filling out and filing forms for our Resettlement and Resource Navigation team, and grocery shopping for clients. Lori has also volunteered at the past two Red, White and NEW events, where she says the highlight of the night is hearing the “inspiring stories of individual refugees who have worked so hard to overcome so many challenges to achieve so much.”
When Lori first began to work with us, our biggest need was in administrative support for our Resettlement and Resource Navigation Department – our staff who work with our new arrivals. Lori jumped right in, helping to complete the many pages of paperwork for each client on a daily basis. Lori says for many this may not seem exciting but it has helped her find a greater connection with new Americans.
“I’ve had the chance to learn all the different names in the different cultures, to see the various family compositions, and to see the range of services the case managers provide,” she says.
Now Lori is leading the way in a new volunteer program – grocery shopping. Before a family arrives, Lori (or another volunteer) will go shopping to help fill up that family’s pantry before they arrive. “It’s fun to see what items each culture prefers. Did you know that Somalis eat a lot of spaghetti, that Ugandans enjoy a fine white cornmeal as a staple, and that our Burmese families like chicken gizzards?”
But Lori also understands the importance having a stable source of food is for a new arrival – many of whom have struggled to feed their families in the past. “I get to stock their kitchen so when they arrive that night, they can see that they have food for the next day,” she adds. “If you’ve ever been a parent, you know how satisfying it is to feed your child and to provide for your family.”
On the rare occasions that Lori is not working at New American Pathways, she and her dog Kenzie are getting back to nature – hiking local trails and learning local fauna. She also takes what she learns from grocery shopping and uses it in her own love of cooking. Lori says she takes pride in preparing all the ingredients for just the right dish she’s craving – and preparing that very dish, no matter the time of night.