It began with an informational meeting at the YWCA across the street from our market, to understand what it would take and decide what we wanted our market to be like.
People attending the meeting were asked to sign up for various volunteer positions. I signed up, but did not know what I could do. I volunteered only twice each of my first 2 years, but after that it because a priority for me.
Coming to the market was my only chance to get out of my apartment in the fresh air, socialize, and be a part of a community, which over the years grew to feel like my only family since I don’t have relatives nearby in Minnesota. As the years went on, I watched children grow, made friends, and looked forward to the opening day of the market each spring.
As a volunteer, I have been responsible for gathering and building the email list for the market, passing out bi-lingual event calendars, passing out recipes, visiting with patrons, and greeting vendors prior to the opening of the market each day.
I would watch for empty booths and stay by them if a vendor needed to use the bathroom, get something to eat or drink, or do an occasional errand.
It was five years ago while I was working at the market on Saturday, September 3rd, I was crossing the street to go to Wells Fargo when a large car hit me in my wheelchair and I went flying to land on the ground. I was fortunate that there was a 3rd year resident at the market that day and she cared for me until the ambulance came, keeping windpipe open by having me talk. She was an angel and got me through those early days.
Needless to say I did not work the rest of the season, but came back after the first several weeks to see everyone. The next year, I was back volunteering again.
With the last couple of market managers, my job has become counting customers, cars, bikes, wheelchairs, and walkers. I still do a few of the things I used to do on my own like babysitting the booths for vendors , visiting with vendors before the market open at 8am, and looking over the wares and veggies to plan my shopping.
Each year, when September arrives, my volunteering comes to a close for medical reasons, but I still come to shop so you will still see me around until the market ends. Each week, I tell people about our market, where it’s located, the reasonable prices, and invite them to come.
To all of you, I thank you for your friendship and making our community a family of people who care about each other. One of my vendor friends and I think of the market as a home and a village filled with friends of all sorts.
When our season comes to an end, I will be counting down the months until spring and the market opens. I hope you will return next year as well.