Volunteer logs 1,300 hours of service at United Against Poverty

Nonprofit relies on volunteers to make social services availible to working poor

By Paul Giorgio - Producer

ORLANDO, Fla. - Nancy Mitchell is this week's Getting Results Award winner.

Mitchell, a customer service volunteer at United Against Poverty, has logged more than 1,300 hours of service in the past two years. 

"There's nobody even close," says Eric Gray, the nonprofit's executive director. "Nancy is really special, in part because she's so consistent."

United Against Poverty is the busiest single-site social service agency in the state, providing services for the working poor. Participating families fall below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

The 50,000 square-foot building on Michigan Street houses a member-share grocery as well as a life enrichment center offering services as diverse as mental health counseling and employment training.   

Mitchell is often the first person new clients meet when they register for services. She can often be found working behind the welcome desk, greeting new members with a smile. 

"I always try to make people feel comfortable," she said.

Membership coordinator Mark Wermuth said Mitchell's customer service skills make her perfect for the position.

"Everybody loves her," he said. "Most of the members that come in know her by name. She's become a fixture here."

The fact that she stands out is a testament to her personality. United Against Poverty relies on up to 4,000 volunteers annually. Gray said the organization couldn't operate without them.

"The whole idea behind the program is to provide a significant savings for low-income families with their food budget." he said. "We do that by keeping our overhead low. There's no way you could staff an organization like this and make the food available at lower rates. It's not possible."

Mitchell volunteers five days a week, often beginning her day at 8 a.m.

"I don't think Nancy came in expecting to be working here 1,300 total hours in the last few years. I think she just came in wanting to help out and she found that she enjoyed it and she was good at it. Because she's good at it she's made an amazing impact here," Wermuth said.

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