By Perry Fishel
IRC Turlock/Modesto Community Outreach Intern
Two retired Stanislaus County residents have helped make refugees’ houses and apartments into homes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, delivering furniture and other needed items to newly arrived families. Ron Hand and Troy Mangrum have both served as donation delivery volunteers since 2019, providing essential needs to survivors of conflict and persecution living in Stanislaus County during a particularly trying time.
Ron first became involved with the IRC after his daughter, Stephanie Hand, completed an internship at the Turlock office. The IRC needed a way of transporting furniture to client homes, so Ron kindly offered his trailer and has been volunteering with the IRC in Turlock ever since. In addition to furniture deliveries, Ron spends his time repairing furniture donations that require some sprucing.
Before joining the Turlock office as a volunteer, Ron had plenty of experience giving back to the community. His long-held history with local community betterment includes introducing a Police Activities League program to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, where he had worked as a deputy. He said he enjoys having the opportunity to see the impact of his service at the IRC.
“I’ve volunteered a lot over the years at all different places, but what I like about the IRC is that I’m actually doing something that benefits people,” Ron said.
Troy discovered the IRC in Turlock/Modesto’s need for donation delivery volunteers through his church. Throughout his time volunteering for the IRC, what has impacted him most is seeing children's eyes while he makes deliveries, he said. Always wary at first about a new stranger in their home, their caution turns to excitement when they realize his reason for being there.
Troy said he always looks for ways to give back, but he is grateful that volunteering with the IRC has allowed him to make an impact on families who have left everything to transition into their new lives. It’s not always easy to find somewhere your service is needed, but the IRC has been able to help him find ways to give back in a noticeable way.
“Well, I also consider this work a bit of an insurance policy on my truck,” he added, jokingly. “It's older, but I figure as long as it’s being used to help people, God will bless it.”
Gratitude for service
Prior to Ron and Troy’s involvement with the IRC, local staff were solely responsible for delivering donations to families and individuals. Ron and Troy’s service has saved IRC staff countless hours of time while also providing much-needed items to survivors of conflict and persecution.
“Ron and Troy have been absolute game changers in terms of our local operations,” said Jonathan Partridge, Volunteer and Conations Coordinator for the IRC’s Turlock and Modesto offices. “Their positive attitude and willingness to lend a helping hand have been particularly helpful during this time of the global pandemic. We appreciate them immensely.”