Volunteer Spotlight: JAN WEETJENS

Jan Weetjens, a regular volunteer in the Resource Center and meal program, can be heard conversing with clients in a variety of languages: French, Spanish and English. A Belgian national, Jan retired from the World Bank, with field experience in Africa, Latin America and South East Asia. As he searched for volunteer opportunities close to home, he found Shepherd’s Table and connected strongly with its mission. What he likes most about Shepherd’s Table is that “People are treated like customers. It’s a small thing but very meaningful to me: whenever possible, people are offered with a choice: do you prefer the chicken or the beef? This deodorant or that one? It validates the person, their dignity, their agency, and their right to choose.”

When he’s not volunteering, Jan keeps busy with leadership and life coaching (www.valleyleadershipcoaching.com), and also studies and meditates. What he likes most about Shepherd’s Table is that “People are treated like customers. It’s a small thing but very meaningful to me: whenever possible, people are offered with a choice: do you prefer the chicken or the beef? This deodorant or that one? It validates the person, their dignity, their agency, and their right to choose.”

Jan enjoys being part of a team that tries to make a difference for people who find themselves in situations of hardship. He appreciates it when he can relate to somebody in their mother tongue, and is moved by all the acts of kindness he sees when volunteering at Shepherd’s Table. He enjoys seeing people take care of each other, including a couple that just got engaged. “It’s beautiful to witness that.”

Jan has continued volunteering throughout COVID-19, as he knows the need is there, and feels safe due to the serious approach Shepherd’s Table has taken to mitigating the risk for everyone. He enjoys meeting people from all different backgrounds and ages and experiences, volunteers and clients alike. “It is one of the joys of working at Shepherd’s Table.” He believes that Shepherd’s Table strives for excellence, and really sees the person and their needs: how can we be as responsive, caring and loving as possible to this person? “I get so much out of being able to connect with people. My own humanity gets affirmed when I’m here.”

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