Jonathan Rivera began volunteering at Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes in 2015, at the suggestion of his counselor from Community Connection’s Mariposa Wellness Center, as an opportunity for vocational skill building and socialization. He just completed his seventh year with our organization, contributing nearly 3,500 hours of service to our mission to date.
Jonathan lives in Freedom with his family, and he started volunteering shortly after completing his schooling at Pajaro Valley High School. It has been truly remarkable to witness his growth during his time volunteering with PVLF. His mom Guillermina shares that before he worked with PVLF, he was shy and had difficulty expressing himself. Now, he communicates more freely and can joke with his family. He really enjoys volunteering three or four days a week, and when he comes home from his shifts at PVLF, he talks with her about what he did, what he ate, and the conversations he had with others. He is comfortable at PVLF, she says, and enjoys spending time with the staff and other volunteers. Pantry Coordinator Jeanette Arias says, “Jonathan is really helpful in the pantry. He greets our clients and bags groceries, and he enjoys interacting with all our volunteers.”
In his own words, Jonathan says, “I used to be quiet and shy. I’ve changed a lot - I used to be serious, and now I’m super social. Here I feel comfortable. I meet new people all the time and talk to them.” He says he likes stocking the pantry shelves, packing bags, and storing donated produce. He also likes helping our Kitchen Manager Maria Gonzalez clean up the dining area and wash dishes, a task he has cheerfully assisted with since he began with the organization. He also enjoys Maria’s cooking, especially pasta dishes, citing her chicken alfredo and pesto pasta as his favorites. Maria says Jonathan is a responsive, dependable, and well-liked volunteer with a great attitude - “everybody loves Jonathan.” She adds, “I’m so proud he comes here. There is a place here for people with disabilities,” who may sometimes struggle to find a place where they feel a sense of belonging.
Longtime PVLF volunteer and former Executive Director Joann Godoy shares, “When I met Jonathan in 2015, on his first day of volunteering at PVLF, he was a quiet, shy guy. Since then, I’ve spent thousands of hours with this friendly, talkative, hardworking, and all-around fabulous volunteer. He is kind and caring and is quick to help us store literally tons of produce and canned goods! Marc [Godoy], the Bread Guy, really appreciates Jonathan’s dependability and willingness to help him unload hundreds of loaves of bread each Monday afternoon. Jonathan is never shy when it comes to stepping up, helping out, and making sure that PVLF does anything we need to do to serve our community!”
When he is not volunteering at PVLF, Jonathan likes playing video games and sharing time and food with his family, including making tamales and fruit salad or going out for pizza or Chinese food. He also enjoys holiday celebrations, including helping distribute turkeys and staple foods to the families served by our pantry. Looking forward to his upcoming 27th birthday, Jonathan reflects that his service at PVLF has given him a lot of new experiences and helped him “grow up” and become more comfortable interacting with diverse people from the community. He encourages others to join us - at PVLF; you can “ be busy and active and get out of the house.”
It is a joy to spend time working alongside Jonathan. He loves to chat and learn more about people and has a big smile and deep, jolly laugh. We are grateful to Jonathan for his service and dedication to PVLF and our community, and we are proud to have been part of his growth as a young adult. He is a key member of the welcoming, inclusive, and caring team that makes our organization truly special.