“Giving Time” focuses on the invaluable volunteers who donate more than 314,000 hours to Second Harvest each year, more than doubling the size of our staff.

Special Blog Post By: Chao-Li, Volunteer Site Coordinator

My name is Chaol-Li Tarng.  I immigrated to the United States from Taiwan 30 years ago.  I got my PhD at the University of Washington in electrical and computer engineering   I’m a Cisco retiree, and currently teach at San Jose State University.  I teach network security.  I teach my students to utilize the security systems we have in place, because many people do not or are sloppy about it.  I teach that if you take a job in network security, to defend from hacking, you’ve got to think like a hacker. I have a desire to know about processes, how things work. This ties directly into how I  found myself volunteering as a site coordinator for Second Harvest for the last decade.

I was looking for an opportunity to do some volunteer work. Before I did the food distribution I did sorting in the warehouse. Many times I found myself wondering, “who gets the food?” Thinking about the way the food is distributed, because we were asked to sort in a certain fashion and because I’m an engineer, I wanted to really know the whole flow of getting food, from sorting to managing to delivering the food to the client.

I began the site coordinating at my current location in 2008.  I feel excited every day of a distribution I think it’s a challenge.  I love a challenge. When I get there the first thing I think of is, are we going to get enough volunteers today?  Are we going to kill ourselves again?  I do this once a month, and afterward I feel great.  Physically I’m tired, but that’s great, too.

So, on the day of a distribution, I organize the volunteers.  I really enjoy the people and the relationships I have with them. Everyone has their own story and I like to hear them. I enjoy listening to all of their stories.

It’s very rewarding at the end of the day. It’s really, really rewarding. I get this opportunity to do a workout. It’s really good exercise. If I do it, whenever, morning or afternoon, afterward, my whole day is done. I have to sit for the whole day, because I’m so physically tired. But, mentally, I’m so fulfilled.  To see the people get food and smile is really my best reward.

***Want to volunteer at Second Harvest? Click here to find out how.