Volunteer of the Month

by Abigail Solazzo


This month we are honoring Denise Choleva CDM, CFPP, of the Vermont (VT) ANFP chapter as our Volunteer of the Month. Denise began her career in foodservice in 1998 at her facility and will celebrate her 22nd year this week. Denise joined ANFP and became a CDM, CFPP in 2003.

Somewhat hesitant and shy, Denise tended to sit in the back row at meetings and didn’t know many members. However, after hearing a national representative speak about volunteering and getting to know other VT members, Denise decided to volunteer with the chapter. Denise began her ANFP volunteer career in 2008 as the chapter secretary. Since that time, Denise has remained a volunteer with the chapter and has served in roles such as program and membership chair, webmaster, treasurer, and president. Additionally, Denise has taken much of her time to train others and step in when there were no other volunteers. Her passion, patience, and dedication to serve others has set the bar for volunteers that follow in her footsteps. VT ANFP members recognize her as someone they can go to with questions or concerns or when they need help; she is there without hesitation. 

As for the future of the VT ANFP chapter, Denise and other chapter leaders are working to increase the number of CDM, CFPPs in the state in hopes they will join ANFP as well as the chapter. The chapter plans to reach out to targeted facilities within the state and inquire as to why there is not a CDM, CFPP within their facility. If there is a CDM, CFPP within their facility, but not engaged with the chapter, VT ANFP hopes to learn more about the opportunities to engage these members.  

Volunteering with the chapter allowed Denise to come out of her shell and strengthen her leadership skills. For those that are hesitant to volunteer, Denise suggests starting with a less demanding role, such as serving on the hospitality or welcome committee. She also suggests getting to know others in your chapter by volunteering to be the greeter at your next chapter meeting and take the time to introduce new members to everyone and make members feel welcome. 

Having served as spokesperson for several years, Denise knows the state spokesperson is always looking for help reaching out to state legislators. And if you have political or legislative connections, consider serving on the impact team to support the spokesperson. Or perhaps you have strong writing skills, Denise suggests developing the chapter’s newsletters 2- 4 times a year (dependent on your chapter) can help the organization tremendously by passing along important information to members and non-members. While Denise lists a few ways to get your foot in the door, she firmly believes volunteering will also help educate the individual about the chapter and the organization. In turn, this may lead them to feeling more comfortable to step into a more predominant and demanding role. Along with finding volunteering rewarding, Denise’s staff and facility have an appreciation and admiration for what she does for the chapter. 

Denise states “Also, don’t ever feel like you are alone in this volunteer journey as you are not. The board members and other volunteers work as a team to keep these organizations running smoothly. You are never alone.”

Thank you, Denise for your continuous hard work, dedication, and support for the VT chapter and ANFP! Your passion is an inspiration for others, and we value and appreciate volunteers like you! 

If you would like to nominate yourself or another volunteer, please email Abigail Solazzo at asolazzo@ANFPonline.org