Finding Fulfillment After Retirement as a Mobile Market Volunteer
When Karen Dovenmuehle retired from her career as a painter after 29 years, she was seeking a volunteer opportunity that would be satisfying for her while providing meaningful work. But she had never volunteered before. Then she heard about the Twin Cities Mobile Market (TCMM). "David Moeller, the CEO of Inside Edge, is a friend and knew that I had recently retired," Karen related. "He mentioned the opportunity to get involved with the TCMM. Prior to that, I had not heard of the Wilder Foundation."
Karen applied and now works as a General Assistant on the Twin Cities Mobile Market two days a week on the Hamline and Ravoux stops. She assists customers on and off the bus helping them to shop and bag groceries. There is some behind-the-scenes work as well in re-stocking shelves and keeping the market presentable. The fulfillment Karen was seeking came quickly. "It's interacting directly with the customers and seeing the impact the market has on their lives," she noted.
New Friends on the Bus, New Knowledge of Food Access
Providing healthy and affordable foods to people who otherwise might not have access has made the Twin Cities Mobile Market a resounding success. In her work on the bus, Karen has made new friends and seen first-hand the importance of bringing fresh and wholesome foods into under-served neighborhoods. "In a very short time, I have been fortunate to get to know several customers. From a gentle touch on my cheek to the many smiles and thanks have validated why I wanted to volunteer," she explains. "But what I did not expect, however, was to learn how difficult it is for some to get access to healthy foods."
The most important lesson Karen has learned in her volunteer work is one expressed often. "You get back so much more than you give," she said. With that in mind, Karen's advice on volunteering to soon-to-retire folks is simple. "Being a rookie at volunteering, all I can say is to follow your heart. There are plenty of opportunities to help others and make a difference."
As for her own work, Karen has this to say about her time with the Twin Cities Mobile Market. "I am thankful for this opportunity and I look forward to the launch of the second bus. I hope to be a part of that as well."
After five years as a program of Wilder, Twin Cities Mobile Market is now a program of The Food Group.