Volunteer Spotlight - Robyn and Chris Parker


How long have you been participating with Hands4Hope – Youth Making A Difference?


We became adult leaders in early 2020 when we learned Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference was exploring the opportunity to open an Emergency Food Pantry. Robyn has been a member of the Placerville Steering Committee since July 2018.


Why did you join Hands4Hope – Youth Making A Difference?


Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference has been one of the local nonprofits we have supported for several years. The work that the youth perform for our community is impressive, and the leadership skills they learn along the way will stay with them throughout their life.


What outreaches do you usually volunteer with? Which do you enjoy the most?


Since we are new to actively participating with Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference, our outreaches are limited. Robyn volunteered at the Winter Boutique in December. It was an incredible experience knowing how much work the youth put into the Boutique before, during, and after the two-weekend event. The smiles on the faces of those who came to shop and their gratitude for having the opportunity to obtain the clothing were special to see.


Our primary outreach is with the Placerville Youth Center and the Emergency Food Pantry. Being involved in the formation of both is very rewarding. Our Placerville community stepped up to ensure that the Placerville Youth Center became a reality. Although the youth center's remodeling and opening were delayed due to the pandemic, the remodeling is now back on track, and the youth center will be opening soon. Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference youth are charting new territory in creating and running the Emergency Food Pantry. Their enthusiasm and heartfelt desire to serve those who are food insecure in our community is very cool!


What is your impression/experience with Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference youth?


It’s been some time since we have been around teenagers! Each time we meet with the youth, we come away with such a wonderful feeling. Watching the youth talk together, create together, listen to each other’s comments, and work together is heartwarming. They are respectful of each other and welcome new ideas. Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference provides such a safe, comfortable place for our youth to share their talents and teach the leadership skills needed to move into adulthood.


Overall, what has your experience been like since joining?


We have had a great experience with Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference. Volunteering with Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference has provided us one way to give back to our community. Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference staff are enthusiastic individuals who love working with the youth.


Lastly, we know you’ve been doing a ton of work to help us get our Placerville Youth Center up and running. Can you tell us what you’ve been doing and what it means to have the new youth center and Emergency Food Pantry in Placerville?


Although Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference is based in El Dorado Hills, youth have been performing many volunteer work hours in the Placerville community for several years. Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference has had school clubs in Herbert C. Green Middle School and Union Mine High School. School clubs are now active at Markham Middle School and El Dorado High School. It was time for the Placerville community to learn about all the wonderful things the youth have been doing locally. The Placerville Youth Center's creation will allow youth from our surrounding middle and high schools to come together after school to work on the projects that our community has benefitted from for so long. A considerable benefit of the youth center's location is that youth from Markham and El Dorado can walk to it.


Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference was the recipient of a Home Depot grant that included Home Depot employees performing remodeling volunteer work at the youth center. The remodel project was put on hold because of the pandemic. When the Placerville Youth Center began the remodeling project, Home Depot employees could not go out into the public to perform volunteer work. Jennifer Bassett, Executive Director, worked hard to locate volunteers to perform certain aspects of the remodel. Many individuals stepped up to help. We have been working on removing a portion of the old carpet, scraping and sanding the floor, and filling in where necessary to level the floor in preparation for laying the new flooring. One thing leads to another, and Chris and a good friend, Rick Willson, will be laying the new flooring when the painting is completed.


Until a person becomes involved in something like the Emergency Food Pantry, you don’t understand the needs of those in the community in which we live. For whatever reason, any one of us might find ourselves in need of additional food items at any time. Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference youth have come together to establish the Emergency Food Pantry Committee and the Homeless Committee. They held a Fall Food Roundup last fall and obtained 3000+ pounds of canned food and dry goods such as pasta and rice. The youth stocked the shelves with the food and are learning how to run a food pantry. Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference youth have partnered with the El Dorado County Office of Education and the Placerville School District to designate families in our schools who are currently food insecure. The Emergency Food Pantry Committee’s plan is to provide twenty-five families per month with additional food items. The youth were also able to partner with Blue Shield of California and the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department to distribute food baskets during the holidays.


The Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference Emergency Food Pantry and the Placerville Youth Center provide our youth an opportunity to support and give back to the community in which they live.