Volunteer of the Month: John Bayer | July 2024

Jul 2, 2024

Each month Hunger Task Force is honored to recognize an individual or organization that goes above and beyond in their service to the organization.

Hunger Task Force relies on the help of more than 16,000 generous volunteers every year. From food sorting and building healthy food boxes for seniors to helping individuals shop the Mobile Market and harvesting at The Farm, volunteers help Hunger Task Force feed people today and support our work in ending future hunger.

John Bayer has been an integral volunteer at the Hunger Task Force Farm since retiring in May 2023. Initially starting in the School Garden, John quickly expanded his role to encompass a variety of tasks across the 208-acre Farm. John finds fulfillment in fulfilling his childhood dream of farming and values the camaraderie with The Farm staff, guided by lifelong lessons in giving back instilled by his grandparents. We are proud to recognize John as our Volunteer of the Month for July 2024!

Q: What volunteer activities you help with?

John: Since retiring in May 2023, I’ve consistently volunteered at The Farm in Franklin. I initially began in the School Garden but quickly expanded my role to assist with various farm tasks, such as harvesting corn, washing pumpkins, landscaping, pruning orchard trees, cleaning fish hatchery tanks, and helping in the hoop-house, among other duties. However,  I began volunteering before retiring, around the time of the COVID-19 shutdown. I first assisted in distributing food at the Hawley Road site during several drive-thru events.

Q: What’s your favorite part about volunteering?

John: Since I was young, I’ve always dreamed of spending a summer on a farm. Now, in retirement, I’m finally able to fulfill that childhood dream. One of my favorite aspects of volunteering at The Farm is the opportunity to work alongside the staff. They warmly welcomed me and continue to show genuine appreciation for my presence. They make me feel valued and like a true member of their team, and for that, I am incredibly grateful.

Q: What made you want to volunteer?

John: When I was eight years old, my grandparents took me along to assist residents at a local nursing home. They instilled in me from a young age the importance of giving back and helping those in need. This lesson has been a guiding principle throughout my life.

Q: Why do you continue to pick Hunger Task Force?

John: Over the years, I’ve engaged in various volunteer activities, from organizing the school picnic for my children’s grade school to participating in the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight program. However, working alongside The Farm staff holds a particularly special place in my heart.

Q: What’s been your most memorable experience volunteering?

John: It’s difficult to choose just one, given the unique opportunities I’ve had at The Farm. However, if I had to highlight a memorable experience, it would be last summer when I undertook the task of cleaning up the historic cemetery on The Farm grounds. The Hunger Task Force Farm occupies the site where the Carmen Family Farm stood in 1839. The Carmen family, along with others, are buried in a small cemetery near the apple orchards. Through some research, I located their graves and carefully uncovered their tombstones. Bringing respect and dignity to the original farmers of this land was a deeply meaningful experience for me.

Q: What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering at Hunger Task Force?

John: I would encourage them to “DO IT!” Many of us are fortunate with abundant resources, including enough to eat, but many others are less fortunate. I would advise any potential volunteer to step out of their comfort zone and make a positive impact in someone else’s life. Even if you don’t witness the direct effects of your actions, knowing that you’ve made a difference for someone else is incredibly rewarding and worthwhile.

For more information on how you can get involved, visit: www.HungerTaskForce.org/volunteer

Hunger Task Force is Milwaukee’s Free & Local food bank and Wisconsin’s anti-hunger leader. The organization’s core values are Dignity, Justice, Equity, Compassion and Stewardship. Hunger Task Force feeds people today by providing healthy and culturally appropriate food to hungry children, families and seniors in the community absolutely free of charge. Hunger Task Force also works to end future hunger by advocating for strong public policies and nutrition programs at the local, state and federal level.