Volunteer of the Month: Carol Henri

June 26, 2020

CUESA’s Volunteer of the Month program recognizes the dedication and work of some of our most active volunteers. CUESA relies on volunteers to help with education programs, special events, public outreach, and other activities that help fulfill our mission to cultivate a sustainable food system. Most of our regular volunteer opportunities are currently on hold with the exception of farmers market roles. Learn more about volunteering here. You can also sign up for our next volunteer orientation on July 29, 2020 here.

Retired from a 30-year career in IBM technical sales, Carol Henri first joined CUESA last June as a volunteer at our Summer Bash, thanks to her friend and fellow CUESA volunteer Jenn Mao. Since then, she has been a consistent volunteer, supporting our Market to Table cooking demos and fundraising events, including Bake the World a Better Place and Sunday Supper.

Since March, with shelter-in-place and new safety measures at the farmers market, Carol has been regularly packing CUESA’s produce boxes or supporting the handwashing station on Saturday mornings. “Box assembly is one of the highlights of my week,” says Carol. “I get to work with a great team of staff and volunteers, and meet many of our farmers while picking up the produce for the boxes and bags and returning the empty boxes and crates. It gives me my ‘people fix’ for the week—so energizing!”

“Carol’s been a wonderful steady presence for the past year,” says Volunteer Coordinator Cindy Mendoza. “Pre-pandemic, she jumped in to help with a lot of behind-the-scenes work to support our fundraising events. Now that we’ve pivoted and are focused on market safety and keeping our farmers and shoppers connected through the produce boxes, it’s been great to have her here every week. I’m so glad we have a meaningful outlets for our volunteers during the pandemic.” Meet Carol.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?

Carol: I’ve been a “foodie” since college. I avoided fast food (and still do!) and became enamored of the “California cuisine” ethos of fresh and seasonal, back when Alice Waters was espousing that in the 1970s in Berkeley. I love to try new cuisines and I enjoy a variety of flavors, but especially fresh produce!

CUESA: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CUESA?

Carol: I keep myself busy as a board member on three different performing arts boards. Singing in choirs has been an essential part of my life since high school, and I have been singing regularly in three of them, Oakland Symphony, SF Bach Choir, and Tactus SF. Right now, choirs cannot meet together due to the pandemic, and so my leadership on the boards is crucial to making decisions about the futures of these organizations. I miss my community of singers, but have found respite and renewal in the community of CUESA staff, volunteers, and the farmers.

CUESA: Why are you choosing to volunteer with us at this time?

Carol: I live alone and was craving face-to-face, socially distanced interaction, after Zoom fatigue and going stir crazy in my little condo. The Saturday morning hustle and bustle and bonding with the regular volunteers, farmers, and vendors has been very energizing and renewing for me. It’s one of the highlights of my week and I’ve signed up for every Saturday for the foreseeable future!

CUESA: What does the farmers market community mean to you?

Carol: Face-to-face, socially distanced interactions with the farmers, vendors, CUESA staff, and volunteers are so renewing and energizing to me! I feel like I’m contributing to the greater good while establishing a friendly and supportive community.

CUESA: Any favorite farmers market foods or home meal prep tips you want to share?

Carol: I love all the fresh, ripe berries. Also, learning to shuck my own Hog Island oysters was a fun and rewarding challenge. And the fresh tomatoes are worth waiting for!