“I guess you could call it a ‘volunteer high’.”
That’s how Phyllis Sollars, operations analyst for the DTE Emergency Preparedness team, describes the feeling she gets when she’s volunteering with St. Christine Christian Services in the Brightmoor neighborhood of Detroit.
“I get so excited being able to help people – being able to talk to them – I just feel so good and can only explain the feeling as ‘this is why I do it’,” Phyllis said. “Part of the reason I got vaccinated was so I could get back out in the community and continue doing what I love.”
St. Christine’s provides food to residents when they’re in need. Approximately 250 people visit the non-profit each week on Tuesday or Saturday to pick up groceries and get a meal. They’re a small operation but make a big impact on the neighborhood.
Phyllis first got involved with the group when her DTE team volunteered at St. Christine’s a few years ago, helping the organization with building maintenance like painting and yard work.
“I remember we had to bring our own lawn mower because St Christine’s mower kept getting stolen out of their shed,” Phyllis said. “That put things into perspective for me, and I was eager to find more ways to help.”
After meeting a man that day with a “cute scruffy dog,” Phyllis came up with the idea to gather pet food, in addition to the people food, for all the people with animals in the area.
Phyllis immediately got to work by partnering with several animal groups throughout the city to help with donations and supplies. She’s been amazed by the number of individuals that have reached out offering to donate, and she purchases a lot of supplies with her own money to make sure the non-profit has enough for everyone who needs it.
Fast forward to now, about 200 of the 250 people that visit each week pick up food for their pets in addition to their own groceries.
The support doesn’t stop there though. Phyllis has plans to set up a pet vaccine clinic for the community in the near future.
“Unfortunately, a lot of these pets in the neighborhood don’t have all their necessary vaccines so getting something like this setup would go a long way in helping protect them,” Phyllis explained.
The one thing Phyllis hopes people take from her sharing her volunteer story is that even a small act can make a huge difference to others. And sometimes that small act will keep growing and growing.
“It started just with an idea,” Phyllis said. “It started really small with me going out and buying some supplies and gathering small donations, but it’s really grown over the last few years and I hope it continues.”