Volunteering at the Milk Bank: “It Feels Good to Be Doing Good”

We asked three dedicated women what they enjoy most about volunteering at the milk bank.

Sue Levy

Q: What inspired you to volunteer at Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast?

After retiring I was looking for volunteer opportunities that would be interesting and for a worthwhile cause.  Turns out I knew some other people who volunteer at the milk bank, and when they described what you do there, I immediately thought it would be something to check out.  Your organization is a wonderful combination of service and science, with a mission that I find practical, altruistic, poignant, and so obviously needed within this regional community.

Q: What projects do you work on when you volunteer at the milk bank?

I’ve done a few different things since I started, maybe almost 2 years ago, but my main activity now is to send out a lovely letter and certificate to the mothers who have finished donating milk.  This is very indicative of the care and appreciation that the organization has for their donors, all along the way from when they first call up, to when they “retire.”

Q: What do you enjoy about volunteering at the milk bank?

Volunteering at the milk bank has been a wonderful experience all around.  It’s been a pleasure to get to know the fun and interesting people who organize and run the milk bank so efficiently and productively, and who so warmly engage new mothers in the joy of breastfeeding and the value of donating their breast milk to others in need. I’d highly encourage others to volunteer!

Melanie Ullman

Q: What inspired you to volunteer at Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast?

I’ve been volunteering at the milk bank for nine years … I was winding down my professional career as a librarian, and I mentioned to a friend that I wanted to find a volunteer job … I explained to her [that] I’m good at clerical tasks (that kind of stuff). And she said, ‘oh have I got the place for you.’ Well it turns out that this person is Karen Karten who was a Mothers’ Milk Bank [Northeast] board member, and she got me started coming to the milk bank.

Q: What projects do you work on when you volunteer at the milk bank?

I’ve been doing all kinds of things. I love to help with shipping the milk out to hospitals and to individuals, because that’s really hands on. I see that the milk is going to help babies thrive, and that is really the most rewarding part. I also do a lot of the behind the scenes clerical work: filing, alphabetizing, organizing, collating packets, cleaning out boxes, doing inventory types of things, all those things that go well with my librarian background, the sort of clerical type things.

Q: What do you enjoy about volunteering at the milk bank?

I really enjoy the people there. Everyone is just terrific and so dedicated and sweet and happy and fun, and I get a great sense of satisfaction out of the work that I’m doing, because I know that it’s going directly to feed hungry babies, and what better job is there than that? Also, I’m really happy to be able to do all of the background filing and collating packets … so that the professionals who work there have more time to do the lab work and the direct client relation work. I feel like I’m a support field for those people.

It’s a wonderful group of people working there. They’re so dedicated, and they’re also fun. The work is just crucial. It’s so important, and we’re providing milk for babies all over the country … Well the place, it means a lot to me…and it feels good to be doing good.

Linda Winslow

Q: What inspired you to volunteer at Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast?

Because I worked in maternity, I knew Naomi from a long time ago when she had her youngest son (who’s in his twenties now). He was in a special care nursery, and she was breastfeeding, and obviously I was helping her, because that’s what my job was. But she really didn’t need any help … She was just sad, because she was separated from him. That’s when they were just starting to loosen the restrictions when babies were in special care. They were slowly letting the parents come in and everything.

I just thought [Naomi] was wonderful, and I kept following after she left the hospital, because she had written some pretty extensive things about motherhood, childbearing, and milk banking too. She was always interested in breastfeeding. It was no surprise when I saw that she, and a few of her colleagues … founded the milk bank. I decided that’s what I would do. They were looking for volunteers, and I finally got myself over there and started to volunteer.

Q: What projects do you work on when you volunteer at the milk bank?

I [labeled bottles] primarily, and then I started doing the shredding. I address envelopes for the mothers that get the certificates to thank them for donating, so that kind of stuff. Whatever the [Donor] Intake Coordinators need to keep their supplies up and where they should be.

Q: What do you enjoy about volunteering at the milk bank?

It’s just a nice atmosphere … I can pretty much get along with anybody, plus I want to help Naomi. I still think that everything she’s done and continues to do is a testimony to who she is. She just helps people, helps mothers especially. That’s what I like most … I don’t see the mothers and babies anymore…because I retired I stepped away from the counseling I was doing … I’m in a different phase of my life. I would never deny a new mother. Matter of fact, when I see a new mother I can’t help but talk to her … [Mothers] are just amazing, in terms of donating their milk and whatever else they can donate.

Thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers who donate their time to helping babies in need.

To learn more about volunteering opportunities at Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, please check out our Volunteer page.